It is obvious that Pakistan ’s parliamentary system, modelled after the British system of representative government, has failed to deliver. If the current system fails to reflect popular will, can it legitimately be called a democracy? For example, according surveys conducted recently, PTI chairman Imran Khan is a very popular leader, yet due to the indirect nature of our political system, he may not be able to win many seats. Even if he should win a large number, he could still not win enough seats to form government. He will still need collaboration with small parties to win the simple majority of 137 seats to form a coalition government. Afterwards, the formation of a jumbo cabinet is the most likely thing to happen so that every coalition partner is made happy.
We should consider a modified version of the presidential system practiced in the United States . Under that system the president will be able to choose his/her cabinet team, with each member having the required technical skills to head various government departments efficiently and at less cost to the taxpayer. The Senate will be left to focus on effective lawmaking. The Centre should hold only four subjects: defence, foreign affairs, currency and communication, and the rest of the departments should be transferred to the provinces. The size of the federal cabinet shall not exceed 20 members. They members should be, but not limited to, retired civil servants, economists, foreign policy experts, educators, scientists and legal experts. The president should be both head of state and government. All political parties registered with the Elections Commission for at least seven years may nominate presidential candidates for the election. Any candidate securing at least 51 percent of the total votes cast should be declared president for a fixed term of four years for each term. In case that no candidate obtains the minimum 51 percent, the top two vote-getting candidates should fight a runoff election to be held within three weeks.
At provincial levels, the governor should be the chief executive. In neither case should he/she be eligible to hold no more than three terms. Pakistanis have some reservations about a presidential systems this system has been been abused by military dictators. Some dictators continued in power through military strength, fake referendums, or the “basic democracies” of Ayub Khan. Through frequent exercise of their voting right, the masses will become more mature politically. The people of Pakistan should seriously debate whether we need a presidential system, or whether we should continue with the British-style systeym simply because we have become used to it.