A new debate has started within Pakistan. Many Anchors, as usual, without a slightest of idea about how a Presidential system works, are running from pillar to post, trying to make it sound like a breaking news just so they can say, ”You heard it first on our channel”.
Some are going as far as calling it an Islamic Presidential System. I for one failed to understand how a Democratic system invented 2700 years ago from the philosophical arguments of Plato and others, has all of a sudden become an “Islamic Presidential System”. Islam was not even introduced when the concept of democracy was introduced. Islam is a religion of Allah SWT and a Presidential System is a thought process invented after much debate by sinful human beings. One is a heavenly sent religion with a book and the other is a humanly invented system of governance by a few people back in Greece. Islam only has a system that is governed by the laws of The Creator, not by the laws invented by the “Created”.
So let us first put this notion to rest. Islam and Presidential system have no links at all.
Now, if you want to debate upon which system comes the closest to delivering the most just and equality based governance for Pakistan, it would be The Presidential Form of Governance, albeit with certain modifications to the local ground realities. And that may create a link between the Islamic demands of a “Just” system and “The Presidential System”. Other than that, do not link the two and give it a misleading title of an Islamic Presidential System. A system implemented within a Muslim country, does not become Islamic just as a car driven in a Muslim country does not become an Islamic car. It is that simple.
Now let us come to the debate of the system’s merits and demerits.
Will the Presidential System work in Pakistan ? The answer is not if it would work or not, the answer is would it be better for Pakistan or not. And the answer to that question is, it would absolutely be better than the Westminster Parliamentarian System. Hands down it would be.
Why ? Because of the following reasons:
- It Is A Fixed Term Based System.
As opposed to the parliamentary system of governance, the Presidential system is much stronger. It is based on a fixed term. The elected head can not be removed from office by the famous “horse trading” maneuvers of the parliamentary system by buying and selling the MNA’s and removing the Prime Minister overnight. There is a concrete step by step impeachment process in a Presidential system as opposed to the parliamentary system. The problem in Pakistan has been, and all previous PM’s and governments have complained that they were not able to complete their terms in office thus they were not able to deliver to the voters. Let us take that excuse away from them forever. I am sure they would and should be accepting this system with smiles on their faces. But they will not because what I am about to write further, it will expose the manipulation of the parliamentarian system by the same politicians who claim that they were not able to deliver because they were removed. They themselves have used the same mechanisms of removal to oust their opponents when they were in the opposition.
- The Head Of The State With A Countrywide Mandate.
The head of the state in a Presidential system is elected “Directly” by all voters from the country. One Man One Vote. Instead of indirectly being voted by his party members, MNA’s, who will without fail elect the head of their own party. In a country with a 200 million population, and the political parties being family dynasties, no person hold a chance in hell to rise from the ashes of the voter constituencies to become the head of the state in a parliamentarian system.
Secondly, the biggest complaint by all parties has been that their MNA’s are bought by other parties to topple their governments. Well, this problem will never be faced again by them because no MNA will have the power to elect or remove the head of the state. MNA’s will only remain legislators, lawmakers and only legislate.
- President Can Pick His Own Cabinet Without Restrictions
The first and the foremost benefit in my view of the Presidential system is that the President is not restricted to make Ministers out of the group of the MNA’s who are actually from the Legislative branch of the government and should not be in the Executive branch because so many times an elected MNA may not have the expertise of 30 years or so in the field that he is being made a Minister for. We have absolutely seen a Doctor being a Petroleum Minister and an agriculturist being a Health Minister. The President will be able to choose the best candidates with the relevant experience for fixing our problems. Secondly, no MNA will be “Rewarded” for electing the PM with a Ministry. MNA’s can not become Ministers, simple. Their job will be to legislate laws, and that is the actual job of an MNA to begin with.
- Senators, MPA’S And The CM of a Province
Currently a Senator is elected by the Provincial MPA’s. Senate is the highest legislative house of a country. Why should a Senator be elected by a provincial Parliamentarian ? A Senator should be elected Directly by the voters of the province that he wants to represent in the Senate. Secondly, a Senator mostly is either “Chosen” in advance by the party head and the provincial party members of the assembly are “Instructed” to vote for anyone who the party head has chosen to be the Senator or a Senator can buy the votes of the MPAs to become a Senator. It is common knowledge that the MPAs can be bought for a Senate seat by anyone for an amount ranging from 20 to 25 crore rupees. History is full of this fact in Pakistani politics.
The head of the province should also be elected directly by the voters of that province. Why do the MPAs elect the head of the province ? Why are they rewarded with the ministries ? Why do not they remain what they are elected for, legislators ? Same applies in order and system at a provincial level, what applies at the national level when it comes to choosing a provincial cabinet from outside the pool of the MPAs.
- No Funds For The MNAs Or The MPAs
Where in the world, even in the Westminster Parliamentarian System that a legislator receives governmental funds to do developmental work within his constituency ? No where. Period.
This is the root cause of most evil in our system. A legislator whose job is to be educated enough to make laws for the betterment of his or her voters is receiving billions of rupees to make roads or other projects. And then getting a cut as his corrupt income from awarding contracts to his favourite contractors within his constituency. This job is for the Local Governments to do. The developmental work is the responsibility of the District, Municipal or The Local Government, by whichever name you want to address this government by. By not involving trillions of rupees of tax payers money in the hands of the legislators, and devolving the power to the lowest branch of the government, district level, you will be able to save billions in kickbacks and misappropriations of funds. We have the smallest of a tax payers base in relation to the GDP or to the population, we need to take every step when it comes to being prudent about spending those funds.
- Agency Manipulation ?
From the time we were born we have been hearing that “Agencies” or “The Deep State” manipulates the election process. I have smiled every time I have heard this. Not because it happens does not happen but because the solution for this problem is so simple and available to the ones who complain about it all the time, The Politicians.
First we need to understand how the alleged manipulation happens, if it does.
Manipulation can only happen by having “Agencies” favourite candidates win at the provincial or the national level. If certain MNAs or MPAs are helped by certain deep state forces to get elected then those elected representatives return the favour by voting for the deep state’s favourite candidate for the post of the CM or the post of the PM. And secondly, the same MPAs or the MNAs are the cause of a PM or a CM being ousted from the assembly through a sudden shock overnight.
When these MPAs or the MNAs will have no power to elect a PM or a CM, then they can never be manipulated by any so called agency. They will be of no use to anyone. They will only be useful for legislation purposes. Period. Nothing else. The voters will elect from around the country, a PM and from around the province a CM. You can change the title of the CM to a Governor by abolishing the Governors’ post and save billions of rupees in expenses from all the provinces because in a Presidential form of government, a CM and a Governor can not coexist within the same province.
Remember one thing, corruption can never be abolished completely in any country, it can only be curtailed. Corruption happens of all sorts. Moral, financial, abuse of power, campaign funding, electoral college influence, all sorts. But it is the responsibility of the state to devise such laws and regulations and punishments that corruption is curtailed. Within the Presidential system, corruption is somewhat controlled.
- Provincial Population Disbalance
A very legitimate concern of a Presidential System in Pakistan would be the fact that Punjab is half of the population of the entire country. Most of the votes to the President will be cast from this Province. That would create an absolute disbalance because the chances of a President getting elected from smaller provinces diminish. For this there is a solution. As a matter of fact, 2 of them. One, you create smaller provinces, which are the need of the time to begin with based on administrative needs or you create an “Electoral College” concept. (please look up what an Electoral College is in a Presidential System as it is too long for me to explain in this basis article). An electoral College can be formed with certain weightages where the disbalance is addressed at each provincial level.
Before this article gets long enough that it turns into a research paper, I would like to commit myself to the readers that I will continue to write in more details in my following articles and address the intricacies of The Presidential System in further details. Consider this article to be the very basics of the system. There is much more to be addressed.
Whatever we choose as the people of Pakistan, my prayers are that we choose it for the benefit of the common man, instead of the benefit of the elite, who have already benefitted immensely from an old and FARSOODA NIZAM of Westminster Parliamentarian System. It does not and has not worked in Pakistan. Simple.
About The Author’s Experience Of The Presidential System
Mir Mohammad Alikhan, the writer has gained practical knowledge of The Presidential System in America when served as The Member of The New Jersey Governor’s Council under The Governorship of Christine Todd Whitman. Mir was also nominated to The United States Republican Presidential Task Force, Foounded by President Ronald Reagan and Chaired by Senator Mitch McConnel, Chairman of The U.S. Senate. In addition Mir has also served as the Honorary Co-Chairman of The National Republican Congressional Committee, headed by The Speaker of The House, Congressmen Newt Gingrich. He also served as The Grand Marshall of The Florida Republican Committer under the Governorship of Jeb Bush in addition to several other key positions.