People are always right


Malik Ashraf

THE right to rule the country derives its legitimacy from the mandate given by the people to a political party through a political process. That is how the people give their authorization to a particular political entity to govern the country on their behalf. The people of Pakistan through the just concluded general elections have spoken and given their verdict in favour of PTI to rule the country. It is dream come true for Imran Khan. One may have a myriad of misgivings and apprehensions about his brand of politics but those should not be a cause for belittling the significance of the mandate given to him by the people. That must be respected without any rancor and malice because the people are always right. I have been a critic of Imram’s style of politics and his impulsive propensity to hurl unsubstantiated allegations at his political opponents and his uncouth and foul language used against his adversaries. However I would tend to go with the choice of the people in line with the democratic spirit and like to congratulate him and his party for gaining the trust of the people. Now that he has been entrusted with the responsibility to rule the country by the people on their behalf he will have to shun those proclivities and behave in a much more mature and responsible way because he is now the face of Pakistan.
Imran must remember that he carries a lot of baggage in regards to the commitments, promised reforms in the system of governance and delivery to the people. He will be under strict scrutiny of his opponents as well as the people. Premiership of a country like Pakistan which faces formidable challenges and is beset with the worst kind of political polarization, is not a bed of roses. His victory speech in which he mentioned elimination of poverty and corruption as his top priorities reminded me of the address given to the Constituent of Assembly of Pakistan by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in which he also prioritized these two issues besides national unity and integration, which regrettably never remained the agenda of the governments that followed. They invariably sustained the archaic and colonial system of governance which was not only anti-people but also infested with an inbuilt culture of graft and entitlement which created islands of affluence in the oceans of poverty that Imran promised to abolish in his speech.
The vision enunciated by Imran would surely need drastic changes in the system of governance and the way we elect our representatives for which he would require the cooperation of his political opponents. His success would mainly depend on his ability to bridge the political cleavages and draw up a new social contract backed and approved by all stakeholders that re-establishes the ascendency of the elected representatives and the representative institutions of the state. The political parties that have failed to win the mandate of the people and are destined to play the role of opposition in the legislative bodies also need to show political maturity and contribute their bit towards carrying out the systemic reforms which are indispensable for taking the country forward and warding off the dangers lurking on the horizon. They also have to make sure that while seeking redress to their grievances and reservations regarding the electoral exercise and its credibility which is their legitimate right, they remain within the confines of the law and constitution. Our ability in meeting and surmounting the internal and external challenges is inextricably linked to our internal unity and strength of the governing system based on justice and fair play.
There is a considered view among political analysts and intellectual that for a multi-cultural country like Pakistan it is absolutely imperative to change the way the people elect their representatives. The present system of electing representatives based on single constituency basis is the real cause of perpetuation of the corrupt colonial system of governance which has affected the entire society due to its trickle-down effect. The so called ‘electables’ produced by the system have not only insulted the mandate of the people by changing their loyalties repeatedly but have also been used by the anti-democratic lobbies to indulge in political engineering that has been the bane of our socio- economic development as well as consolidation of the gains of independence.
The country needs a switch-over to the Proportional Representative system wherein the people vote for the parties and they are represented in the legislatures according to the percentage of the popular votes polled in their favour. It helps the parties to bring forth their best and competent people to the legislatures who positively contribute to nurturing the national causes and issues related to delivery to the masses. The system makes Parliament a truly representative body and helps in bringing the small regional parties in the mainstream of the national politics. The change-over to this system will once for all eliminate feuds regarding rigging which are the hall-mark of our political culture. It will also scuttle the ability of the elements inimical to democracy within and outside the country to sabotage the will of the people or orchestrate political engineering. The adoption of the Proportional Representative system will surely address the prevalent culture of corruption in our body politics which has affected almost all the segments of the society.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.

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