Sunday May 22, 2022

The debate

January 28, 2022

Ever since Pakistan’s independence, the people have found themselves caught up in the never-ending debate on a presidential system. Recent reports suggest that the debate has once again found some importance in the country’s political landscape.

The people of Pakistan should decide on a system of government; once they have chosen one, there should be no going back. It is entirely up to civilians and civil organisations to work with honesty and valour to make the chosen ‘nizaam’ (system) a successful one. If civilians continue to not perform, some sort of a switch-on, switch-off hybrid system would continue to disrupt our lives.

Abbas R Siddiqi



This refers to the article ‘Change the system’ by Dr Atta-ur-Rahman (Jan 26). It started with a quote from Quaid-e-Azam suggesting that the presidential form of government was more suitable for Pakistan. The Quaid probably said so because he was a person of exceptional calibre and unquestioned integrity. He might have expected that Pakistan’s future leaders of Pakistan would be like him. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Even though the Ayub Khan rule brought some progress and prosperity to the country – facilitated by generous foreign aid – it also gave birth to ethnic tensions in Karachi and separatist tendencies in East Pakistan, which ultimately broke the country under Gen Yahya Khan’s rule. Later, Gen Ziaul Haq let militancy, extremism, and terrorism in the name of religion grow in the country; these issues are still present in the country.

The Gen Musharraf regime didn’t turn out to be rosy either. The people remain divided and exploited on the basis of ethnicity, and institutions – which were deliberately weakened – became incapable of preventing abuse of power by presidents. A presidential system is bound to turn into the worst form of dictatorship, leading to serious consequences.

SRH Hashmi