Sadarat-E-Nizam- The Presidential System In Pakistan; Cut From The Cloth of Old Failures?

Pakistan, since its inception has used the parliamentary system of government given to it by it’s British colonial masters. The parliamentary system has come under much criticism in Pakistan as the Pakistani public are only allowed to vote for their local constituent of the party they wish to support rather than directly voting for a President – and that once a president has been voted in, their powers to change laws have been limited due to the lengthy process this requires in the parliamentary system, and because of instability caused by opposition parties making alliances amongst themselves, effectively curtailing any new legal propositions by the current president. This has been problematic as Pakistani local politics has been in a state of nepotism, corruption and feudalism since its inception in 1947 in the sense that whichever party has the most financial clout and social connections in an area is able to garner votes from its local constituency (both ethically and non-ethically) in an absolute majority (in many cases, laughably 100% voter turnouts). This has lead to party strongholds (PPP in Sindh, PMLN in Punjab and PTI in KPK.
These problems with the parliamentary system in Pakistan, have lead for calls for the adoption of a presidential system. It is thought that it would be more successful because it would allow a beneficial separation of powers between the president and the legislature. In a parliamentary system, the prime ministers position in power is continually being threatened as his party may lose required seats in national election; such would not be the case in a presidential system where there would be a separate election for constituent seats and a separate election for president. Those who endorse the presidential system of government argue that it is better than a parliamentary system because it allows the stability that is missing under a parliamentary system.

Supporters of the PTI government of Imran Khan have claimed that Pakistan would be better off with a presidential system where the president can implement his vision and policy with greater freedom and autonomy rather than power-sharing with opposition political parties that have a large share of the legislature due to Pakistan’s political divide of different major parties having a stranglehold on different areas of the country. Some opposing commentators have argued that because of this very fractured ethnic heterogeneity (pakistan is made up of 5 provinces with distinct ethnic identities), a presidential system would make the inter-ethnic situation worse rather than better because it would give the ruling party undisputed control of passing laws it deems fit, to the credit of it’s stronghold province, and detriment to other areas of the country.

What seems to be missed in this debate, is the role of the ever-present corporate-military establishment of Pakistan; an establishment which would continue to hold the reigns of power no matter if a parliamentary system was to be replaced by a presidential system – just as it has done throughout Pakistan’s unstable history. In fact, such a change would allow the establishment even greater control on the public and makes it easier for them – and not the Pakistani public – to benefit from speedier legislation. The role of the establishment becomes a greater problem given the fact that successive American governments have had strong vested interests in Pakistan since the 1950’s and these interests have practically served as Pakistan’s foreign policy (backing of wars in Afghanistan during the Soviet era, and the Invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11, drone strikes on it’s own innocent civilians in Waziristan and operation Zarb-e-Azab – all for American strategic and political interests). If the presidential system allows the President of Pakistan to pass legislation more efficiently, these laws would not be contrary to the American plan for the region, because the entenched military/political established would sure that it’s American masters are not undermined in the face of any advancement.

What is needed here is not just a change of administration involving the executive and the legislature, but a complete overhaul of political system where an elite establishment cannot have cannot have any vested interests that are to the detriment of the people. The Islamic Khilafah System in the only such system which would unite the different ethnic groupings on what they believed Pakistan would be about since it’s inception in 1947 – Islam. There has always existed a deep-seated love in the Pakistani public for anything that is considered Islam; Imran Khan (and others likewise) have had to refer to the prophetic “Madinah Model” of governance when appealing to the Pakistani public before elections. Likewise whenever there has been an attack on the honour of the Prophet (saw) – whether at home or abroad – the Pakistan awaam have gathered in their droves to voice their discontent and opposition.

The Khalifah would have complete control of power, however (unlike in the presidential system) he would not be allowed to legislate on whim as the laws governing various different areas that comprise a state (economy, education, social life, foreign policy) would be fixed according to Islamic directives from the Qur’an and Sunnah. Not only this, but if the Khalifah were to violate his position at the expense of the people, the Mahkamaat Al-Madhalim (The Court of Unjust Acts) would nullify his position and immediately arrange a new election for a successor. In short, the Khilafah system of governance affords complete control to the Khalifah to implement the laws of the creator, without vested elite interests and subject to definite accountability in case of error.

In this regard – with (or without) the Pakistani elite establishment, the proposed presidential system would just be another guise of bringing a police state to further oppress the people. It was not long ago Mohammed Morsi of Egypt was sworn in as President of Egypt and sought to increase his executive powers in a similar way to the presidential system that is being mooted in Pakistan, only to removed a year later and imprisoned as his actions did not allign with the country’s entrenched military and security establishment (that,unsurprisingly, were backed by US aid to the tune of $1.3 Billion). History since the very beginning of the inception of Pakistan has taught us time and time again that the will of the elite establishment is what any party must adhere to, be it in democratic periods and periods of military rule – either bow to it and create no change, or be exiled, imprisoned or killed. Islam is the only system that tackles the problem of ruling from it’s roots – by removing the vested interests of elites and in the process delivering justice; otherwise, as for the past 70 years, a merry-go-round of cosmetic changes and failures in government will continue to betray the people of Pakistan as they always have done.

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