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Why Pakistan needs to focus on its presidential and parliamentary system?

Talk of a presidential system recurs at fairly regular intervals and is supported by the usual suspects who blame parliamentary democracy and not the mal intent and incompetence of those running it for the failure of governance. In any case, if the present parliamentary status collapsed due to bad governance and controversial elections then the people of Pakistan prefer a presidential form of government.

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On the basis of the imposition of an Indian prime minister Indra Gandhi like emergency and change in the system through various formulas are being heard in the corridors of Parliament nowadays. The country’s major opposition parties see a systematic and planned campaign behind the circulation of rumors about the imposition of some kind of an emergency in the country and on getting talk in social and mainstream media in favor of the presidential form of government.

It’s historical fact that the imposition of emergency in India by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi on June 25, 1975, remained in force till March 21, 1977. This emergency is regarded as the darkest chapter in the history of Democratic India as during this period the country saw a crackdown on civil liberties and stifling of dissenting voices. This emergency had also been reported lying imposed by prime minister Indira Gandhi after an election tribunal justice Sahana had convicted her on charges of rigging in election 1975. Electoral experts are seeing the same episode as the Election Commission of Pakistan declassified key documents in PTI foreign funding case and a regular hearing on day to day basis is going to be held with effect from 1st February.

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Why has PTI failed us?

This is unfortunately not the first time that such rumors have germinated in our political landscape that is clearly quite fertile for their growth. Talk of a presidential system recurs at fairly regular intervals and is supported by the usual suspects who blame parliamentary democracy and not the mal intent and incompetence of those running it for the failure of governance.

In any case, if the present parliamentary status collapsed due to bad governance and controversial elections then the people of Pakistan prefer a presidential form of government on the lines of the United States of America or France, then there is a constitutional way of making this change. With a two-thirds majority, parliament can make a constitutional amendment and change the parliamentary form into a presidential form of government. There is no other legal way of doing this.

The opposition is of the view that the government is behind such a campaign to dis track the people’s attention from real issues and its failure in every field. There is whispering that the government is planning to hold a referendum to obtain the vote of confidence in favor of form presidential system..as per Article 48 and subsection 16 the government is empowered to hold a referendum on any matter of national importance but the prime minister in consultation with president he has to refer the matter to a joint sitting of the Parliament and if it is approved in a joint sitting, the prime minister may cause such matter to be referred to a referendum in the form of a question that is capable of being answered by either Yes or No.

For the guidance of all concerned, I am quoting part Emergency provisions of the constitution and Article 232 deals all matters in detail. So as per Article 232 and subsection 2, while a proclamation of Emergency is in force, the president may, by Order, declare the right to move any court for the enforcement of such, of the Fundamental Rights conferred by Chapter 1 of part 2 as may be specified in the Order, and any proceeding in any court which is for the enforcement , or involves the determination of any question as to be the infringement, of any of the Rights so specified, shall remain suspended for the period during which the Proclamation is in force, and any such Order may be made in respect of the whole or any part of Pakistan.

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Pakistan politics needs to settle down to a rhythm that is predictable in a systematic way and does spring surprises when none are needed. As the Imran government is stood on week wickets these rumors would die a natural death.

 

Kanwar Dilshad is former Secretary, Election Commission of Pakistan, Islamabad. He is the Founder and Chairman of the National Democratic Foundation. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.