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Politics and election in Pakistan

Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad

THE 1973 Constitution has, despite the twenty three amendments incorporated during various political and military dispensations tried in the last forty years, failed to tackle the problems faced by the people of Pakistan who have all along been governed by such a set of persons/families/interests as has, through various general elections, been merely changing its face. It is, therefore, high time the people are consulted about changing the prevalent political party-based electoral system and replacing it with an institution-based electoral system. The 21st Century expects mankind to come up with a fresh power sharing arrangement compatible with the recently-unfolded IT Culture.
Therefore, a broad-based five-branch (education, commerce, justice, defence and executive) democratic dispensation is the only way out for a nation/country aspiring to global leadership in the new century. Such a government will, in conformity with universal requirements and observable phenomena of Nature, generate a fresh social contract to ensure the happiness and growth of every individual, group, institution and (tier/level of) government/nation so that a strong welfare state emerges to zealously safeguard the rights of all human beings.
Truth is great and will prevail because the logic of events will turn the tables on falsehood. It is evident that no party will, as a result of fair and free elections, be in a position to form a majority government. At the same time, any alliance of the majority party, with small groups, will result in a crowd of self seeking and corrupt ministers which kind of government will be liable, at the hands of any super power indulging in the toppling/installing of governments, to bow to its masters. Conversely, an engineered election will result in a countrywide protest like the one seen after the 1977 general election. Advancement of information technology has enabled Truth to manifest itself against all odds. The credentials of truth are known by the test of time: Good, right and truth are final, they do not merely come and go but create a new situation to restore the true balance disturbed by evil, wrong and falsehood. The time theme and its mystery with relation to human history dictates us to get our vision adjusted to logic of events as they have unfolded in very beginning of the 21st Century. Consequently, prevailing social contract rooted in Industrial Culture and entailing the trichotomy of power (vested in the legislature, judiciary and executive) has been unable to cope with phenomenal speed of time.
Moreover, the goals in the prevalent social contract are not only incompatible with, but also negate, the do’s and don’ts prescribed by the Almighty. Therefore, the governing codes/constitutions in Muslim countries entail constant revision/amendment which is, most of the time, tailored for the benefit of an elite ruling class. Nevertheless, such frequent tinkering with a basic document not only renders it impracticable and redundant but also promotes weak, but despotic and dictatorial, governments. Since, however, a dictatorship ignores public input for throughput and, instead, forces the public, by unfair means, for throughput, the result is an undocumented economy which covers up corruption and unfair distribution of national resources, phenomena of the kind frequently seen in most Muslim countries. As against democratic societies where leaders elected to serve the people opt, when accused of any crime, to resign from their positions for clearing their names, the leaders in Muslim societies refuse to step down even when convicted by the highest courts. It is unfortunate that the political leaders merely talk of democracy, actually desiring to grab political power so that they can (continue to) misuse it for personal gain, for saving any ill-gotten wealth and for perpetuation in office.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, nepotism is at its peak when 70 reserved seats of the National Assembly are being distributed amongst the loyalists and relatives of party leaders so that the system of dictatorship is strengthened in the party and the country. This clearly renders our system nothing but a sham democracy. Senate Members: Party leaders convene Central Executive Committee (CEC) meetings where they are authorised to allot tickets or select candidates for the Senate. All this encourages and strengthens dictatorship in the party. Special seats of Senate: A party leader selects his loyal candidates or relatives to man the special/reserved seats in the Senate which practice raises the following questions: * Is this not a burden on taxpayers in the name of democracy? * Is this not selection instead of election? While dictatorship, as exemplified by Zia ul haq/Musharraf, turned out to be nothing but the evil face of democracy, democracy, as exemplified by Bhutto, turned out to be nothing but the evil face of Dictatorship.
This is so because the 1973 Constitution, not being a workable document, has been requiring frequent amendments to suit the evolving geo-political developments. Besides, it does not differentiate between good and evil and, in case a member chooses, against the will of his party, to vote according to his conscience, he is rendered liable to be unseated in the name of floor crossing. Democracy, exemplified by political party-based electoral system dependant on electable, has turned out to be nothing but the evil face of family dictatorship in the country. Our political parties have not evolved to serve the people but are mere shadows of such families/individuals as have succeeded in capturing the top leadership positions in the party hierarchy. In addition, our political parties have no clear direction, wherefore any reforms in the present electoral system are doomed to be heading towards an abyss. In view of the foregoing, it is inescapably clear that our political party-based electoral system needs to be transformed into an institution-based electoral system designed in accordance with the Electoral College.
—The writer is former Federal Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation