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HomeNationalCritics say presidential system not the 'solution to all problems'

Critics say presidential system not the ‘solution to all problems’

Proponents argue presidential system brings more stability

A call to install a presidential form of government has drawn criticism from several quarters of the citizenry, particularly on the grounds that a shift in governance type may not solve Pakistan’s problems.

In an ongoing social media trend, several have rallied around the idea that Pakistan would be better off with a presidential form of government instead of a parliamentary one. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) die hards have prayed for Prime Minister Imran Khan to be at the helm as president instead under a system that would grant the executive more powers than a parliamentary one, in which governance depends on a legislative majority.

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Proponents of changing the system argued so because they felt it was a more stable method of governance. They also said that the parliamentary system had encouraged corruption and delayed deliverance of justice.

While proponents of a presidential system were plenty, the opponents were just as strong. Lieutenant General (retired) Shafaat Shah said that while a presidential system fared well for governance, it was not practical for an ethnically and linguistically diverse nation.

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Anthropologist Sikandar Ali Hullio meanwhile opined that it was the “remnants of dictatorship” who demanded a presidential system because they couldn’t deal with the parliaments strength. He added that Pakistan had a reasonable parliamentary system as enshrined in the 1973 constitution.

 

Meanwhile, former Punjab information commissioner Mukhtar Ahmad Ali felt that even a presidential system would still require political parties and the proposed system could take up to a decade to formalize. Ali said that there should be emphasis on enhancing the existing system as a change would cause a ruckus at present.

Maryam S. Khan, a research fellow at the Institute of Development & Economic Alternatives (IDEAS) said that the presidential system was de facto giving power to the military or a military supported leader, with a cherry-picked cabinet and a legislature that was good on paper only.

Brigadier General (retired) S K Malik added that asking for the PM to turn into the president was akin to granting him “an extension”. He said that the one who couldn’t deliver in five years wouldn’t be able to in 50 either, adding that the call towards a presidential system was an attempt to drown out his ill performance.

Another former army man, Talha Lodhi said that “implementation” was a ground up phenomenon, alluding to the fact that changing the executive’s stature or powers would not do much without change in the system from below.

A citizen added to the debate and said that those calling for a presidential system were detracting from more venerable concerns related to governance, adding that any system could flourish if there was the will to do so amongst the political elite.

 

Aam Log Ittehad Chairman Rehmatullah Khan Wazir said that whatever the system may be, it would be faulty if not followed properly. Wazir said that the parliamentary system was best for Pakistan but needed tolerance and equitable treatment between the two sides. Accountability was also currently missing, he said.

While the critics of the presidential system countered those in favor of it, investment banker Mir Muhammad Ali Khan conducted a poll on Twitter to attempt to demonstrate where public favor swayed. The Wall Street businessman said that of the 18,786 people who participated in his poll, 92 percent were in favor of the presidential system.

 

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