PROMISE OF CHARTER OF DEMOCRAY
what could have better been a peace time exercise, the proposed charter of
democracy effecting a range of issues needs a closer look given current
developments in Pakistan.
Provincial autonomy has been contentious issue often faced a paralysis
given sordid events in history and as such generally avoided. Purely from
governance, decentralization is better focused as the motivation through a
nationalistic furor that can be more productive while the material benefits
can be shared by all. Yet provinces could be overzealous in demands, whether
control of natural resources and insistence upon contradicting jurisdictions
or other subjects they are ill equipped to handle on their own.
Unfortunately, once things are gotten out of hand the center is left with
the inalienable responsibility to make over with often harsh measures.
Sectarianism is serious national unity issue tied both with economics as
well as the law and order situation now squarely at the back of the center
and likely to remain so for sometime. Many problems stem from there. Often
struggling governments become vulnerable to pressures giving way to
decisions not conducive in the long run. Thus the answer, no matter the
time, needs non partisan debate visible at all level, particularly the
national media assuming its own responsibility.
separation of powers, purely as an exercise to clamp on president Asif Zardari’s
powers, it is also to be reminded that he holds the party leadership and can
fight next election for the office of the prime minister to regain his
powers. Late premier ZA Bhutto himself changed his office becoming the prime
minister, and as lately Mr. Putting of Russia, somewhat circumvented an
exchanged role for effective powers.
discussion: While PPP was founded by Late Bhutto, new leadership hopefuls
may also have emerged within the party with independent vote bank who may
well be eyeing their own position causing Mr. Zardari to contest his
legitimacy as the party heir apparent. There again, despite his baggage, he
has also demonstrated his political acumen where a successful charter
package may now buy him enough time for a future challenge. As to his
tormentor, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, played himself Mr. Good, to now sit
comfortably in waiting for a third term, he may yet have to see the last of
Mr. Zardari’s legendry surprises - no mistake about that.
Pakistan, the presidential powers to bring down the government, and done
with impunity, is a rare clause borrowed from the British parliamentary
system under a sovereign and once applied some years back in Australia
dismissing an elected government. Yet, in Pakistan, president is largely an
appointee as protector of the constitution. However there are essential
elements to his role in concert with the supreme judiciary including
consultations with the army dealing with national security. Is it possible
to create a national security apparatus reporting directly to a non partisan
president which would also prevent national intelligence agency from
becoming politicized? Again, national emergency is an indispensable option
when necessary. Here in Canada, War measures Act was applied in Quebec 1973,
under a full fledged democracy in concert with a sitting parliament.
Interestingly, unelected General Musharaf was handed out these powers by
self serving politicians that he never applied. Instead, unhappy with
Premier Jamali, PMQ leadership offered him Shaukat Aziz as a replacement
preventing dissolution of the parliament and avoiding fresh elections. With
some adjustment, this seems a plausible solution for a party dissatisfied
with its leader to call for internal review even re- election within the
party. Leadership review is not uncommon phenomenon in a democracy.
Today, there is also increased trend towards coalition governments, and
where warrants, even friendly opposition. Committees are now actively
participated by the opposition members. Majority governments enjoy a leeway
for a tenure but also become authoritarian. This is no less for a lackluster
minority government rarely able to deliver while opening doors to pay offs
to gain support. Coalitions can help form a broad based government while
provide for continuity. A friendly opposition though, despite cooperation,
must exercise essential elements of opposition based on its own platform and
ideological leaning whether: Conservative, liberal, Social, if this to
include religious parties in Pakistan.
the political dynamics has substantially shifted in Pakistan internally as
geopolitically, charter of democracy may resolve time honored commitments
just as the return of Chief Justice Chaudhry. At the end of the day, whether
this will have also provided for solution to some serious problems at hand,
will be known.
writer is a long time free lancer on issues of the day)