Wednesday July 06, 2022

‘Presidential system suitable for Pakistan’

May 11, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Renowned defence analysts believe the presidential form of government is suitable for Pakistan but all of them are unanimous that changing the form of government from parliamentary to presidential system is almost impossible for the present set-up.

General (retd) Amjed Shoaib believes, “Imran Khan is one of the honest politicians in the existing lot and there will be no harm if he is made president of Pakistan. However, who will guarantee that his successor will also be honest like him. It will be too risky to assign absolute powers under the presidential form of democracy to a corrupt person. I think it is not possible for the present set-up to introduce the presidential form of government as it lacks the required mandate.”

Gen (retd) Ijaz Awan says, “We have to think whether a country like Pakistan which is at the verge of default wants to move forward with the burden of 1,500 MPAs and MNAs or it wants to go ahead with the presidential system. All the major powers have presidential form of government because this system makes the decision making process much easy.”

Air Vice Marshal (AVM) (retd) Shehzad Chaudhry believes it is a useless debate as the matter is settled in the Constitution. The Supreme Court of Pakistan termed the parliamentary form of government one of the basic pillars of the Constitution, which can only be altered through two-thirds majority. According to him, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in their personal capacity were fond of the presidential form of government.

Talking to The News General (retd) Amjed Shoaib said the presidential form of government is suitable for Pakistan because all the powers are transferred to a single person and he requires no help from parliament to implement his agenda. In the presidential form of government, if the president thinks it is difficult to convince parliament for implementation of his agenda, then he can bypass parliament and use his presidential powers. The presidential form of democracy puts the decision making process on fast track and this is what our country requires at the moment.

“The presidential system has the positive as well as negative aspects. Imran Khan is honest, dedicated and has the will to deliver. Let’s suppose we change the parliamentary form of government into presidential system and if some corrupt person with ultimate powers becomes the president, who will control him,” said Gen (retd) Amjed.

“The present government has failed to deliver so far. Not a single bill has been passed. The opposition parties are trying to protect themselves, they have totally ignored the public’s miseries. Whereas the ruling party is utilising all its energies to counter the opposition parties. No one is thinking about the people of this country,” commented Gen (retd) Amjed.

It is clear now that it is not possible to introduce presidential form of government with the existing mandate. It will require a new constituent assembly to change the parliamentary form of government into the presidential one. Therefore, instead of changing the form of government, there is need of bringing reforms in the existing system. The process of electoral system needs reforms, the process of scrutiny before the elections should be strengthened so that honest and well-educated people could be elected as representatives.

Talking to The News, Gen (retd) Ijaz Awan said the presidential form of government is possible in any part of the world and it is very much suitable in Pakistan as well. The presidential form of government can be introduced through two different ways, (i) only BD members can elect the President (General Ayub Khan’s presidential form of government) (ii) elect a president through direct vote -- one man one vote --like the American presidential elections.

“We have to think about whether a country like Pakistan which is on the verge of default has to move forward with the burden of 1,500 MPAs and MNAs or just a president and four governors can steer the country out of this quagmire. Both are democracies and both can be run but I believe the accountability system in the presidential form of government will be more effective. If an American or a French president can be impeached on the charges of misconduct, why it can’t be done in Pakistan. All we need to do is to introduce an effective accountability system that can even hold the president accountable of any corrupt practices,” commented Gen (R) Awan. When asked whether the presidential form of government is harmful to the Federation, Gen Awan replied, “Ethnic rivalry is not the part of our culture. Punjabis, Sindhis, Baloch and Pashtuns have always lived cordially with one another. I don’t think the presidential form of government can be harmful to the Federation.

“The main reason of crisis in our country is that the process of decision making takes too much time. It takes a lot of time to decide about a certain matter as the respective governments have to get parliament’s approval first. But in presidential form of government only a few individuals will be able to take the decision and that too within no time,” commented Gen (retd) Awan.

AVM Shehzad Chaudhry while talking to The News said the presidential form of government is as democratic as any other is. The Americans have run an exceptional model without centralising powers in Washington. Its 50 states exercise exemplary independence in state laws and economies.

“It remains the most opportune non-issue that serves as a distraction and as an indirect lashing of the old horse – the military. Since it has been instilled that a) a presidential system is non-democratic; b) it is something that the military desires because it has a fetish for centralising power at one place; and c) it has only been the military dictators who instituted the position of a president in our political journey, this bogey must be buried and the insidious characterisation called out”, commented AVM Shehzad Chaudhry.

“For Pakistan, certain changes to the governance provisions must be made where ministers may be chosen from outside of Parliament and made answerable to Parliament through its committees. We may then retain our current political system and only tweak it to ensure most optimal return”, he commented.