Who is behind the mischief of presidential system and why?

Published: 03:36 PM, 22 Jan, 2022
Who is behind the mischief of presidential system and why?
Caption: File photo.
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These days Pakistan is in the grip of freezing cold and whispers of a presidential system as replacement to the existing parliamentary democracy.

While biting cold is expected to continue for some more time, the rumors about presidential system will take time to vanish.

It’s not clear who is behind these rumors and what’s the motive of its backers.

The government could have dismissed these rumors by issuing a categorical statement.   

But the matter was taken rather seriously and discussed even in the National Assembly on Friday.

The precious time that could have been consumed better, was wasted for this non-issue.  

Representing the public sentiment, PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal said the rumors about presidential form of system are a matter of serious concern.

“We will never allow anyone to impose (presidential) system”, said the articulate leader from Narowal, who had held important ministries during the PML-N rule. He even has been the interior minister, a portfolio now with Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed.    

It may be recalled that on Wednesday, the members of the joint opposition had submitted a resolution to the National Assembly Secretariat expressing the resolve to uphold and strengthen the federal parliamentary system in the country as provided in the 1973 Constitution.

The PML-N secretary recalled that presidential system in the past had fueled grievances which subsequently led to the division of the country. He noted that the founding fathers of Pakistan had envisaged parliamentary democracy.

The country had dismembered during General Yahya Khan’s rule, he recalled, referring to the emergence of Bangladesh. 

The PML-N leader asked for holding a debate on the political system so that this issue could be resolved once and forever. “Every citizen of Pakistan would strongly resist the movement (for the change of system).”

PPP’s Agha Rafiullah also expressed concern and called for opening an inquiry to expose the elements churning out the rumors.

Although a government representative claimed that there is no need for the change of system, the fears have not vanished. 

The ground reality is that people want the blizzard of problems addressed. They are least interested in changing the system. They don’t give much importance even to the man at the helm.  For them anybody who can make their lives comfortable, easier is acceptable. 

As for the change of system, it’s not an easy task.

First of all there should be a strong call from the public – and justification for it.  There should be strong arguments against and in favor of the proposed alternative. 

According to a constitutional expert, the incumbent assembly can decide the change of system through a resolution to be passed by a two-thirds majority. But then the assembly will have to give full details of the presidential system it wants implemented.

This means the constitution will have to be rewritten giving full details of the working of the new system, functions of the key roles thereof.

Though theoretically it’s possible for the present assembly to a take a decision on switching to a new system, practically it’s such a huge task that will require a long time to complete.

Then, it’s a fact that the presidential system was experimented even in the past but it had failed to give the desired results. It was after the failure of this system that it was abandoned. 

The supporters of the change of system should bear in mind that it is a matter of great shame if we are not clear even after more than seven decades of the country’s existence which system suits the Islamic republic of more than 220 million people.  The world will be justified to ridicule the only Islamic nuclear power on this ground.

It’s hard even to imagine that in the prevailing state of polarization all federating units will agree to a new system.  

It is a mischief which should be rejected by all concerned.


Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.