All those who stand for democracy and have faith in the ability of the democratic system to take the country to the dizzying heights as envisioned by the founding father, have heaved a sigh of relief at the culmination of the ambience of political uncertainty in the country and the emergence of the possibility of senate and general elections being held on time for transfer of power through the ballot box. It is most unfortunate that the biggest villains in regards to frequent derailment of democracy have been the politicians who have invariably sided with the anti-democratic forces and even hatched conspiracies to destabilize the elected governments that were installed through elections during the periods interspersing the dictatorial regimes.

The memories of the crass politics of the nineties are still afresh in the minds of the people. However the first ever transfer of power through ballot in 2013 generated the hope that the country had gone past that unenviable phase and the democracy was well on its way to entrench itself. That was not to be, as has transpired during the last four and half years. The PTI and PAT have been continuously working to destabilize the sitting government through unconstitutional means. One does not need to go into details of the events that have occurred as the people know them fully well. The last and final dig at the government and the democratic system was collectively made by PAT, PPP and PTI during the middle of the current month when they announced to launch a movement against the government and held a combined rally at Lahore on 17th January. The public rally proved to be the biggest snub for these parties as it failed to generate the support that they expected. It took the wind out of their sails and they perforce had to exercise a retreat clearing the decks for the holding of senate and general elections.

During the same period there was a surprise change of government in Balochistan which strengthened fears about similar moves in the other provinces or the dissolution of the assemblies to block the senate elections. Luckily that scenario also failed to unfold. But what happened in Balochistan exposed a very detestable affliction of our political system. The sources savvy of the development reveal that money made the legislators to change their loyalties and in the coming senate elections the party that financed this clandestine operation would have a few senators from Balochistan though it has no seat in the provincial assembly.

The foregoing developments indicate that there was something terribly wrong with our political system. There are no two opinions about the fact that the feudal and elitist character of our political system is the root cause of all the ills that this country is afflicted with and requires to be replaced by a system that is truly democratic in nature and responsive to the needs of the society.

It is interesting to note that out of the 342 seats of the National assembly, nearly 250 constituencies are in the rural and tribal areas and most of the traditional political families and their allies completely dominate these electoral entities. Their assured position of being electable from these constituencies in a system based on single constituency puts them in an unassailable position and every political party has perforce to rely on them to win required numbers to form the government. They have a well entrenched vested interest in the continuation of the present system and therefore they use their clout to black mail the governments and prevent any change inimical to their interests. The culture of corruption, lota-cracy and horse trading are the hall marks of this brand of politics. Majority of these politicians are illiterate or semi-literate and never participate in the deliberations of the parliament. The record reveals that more than half of them have never uttered a single word in the Assembly. Politics for them is an industry and they invest to multiply their fortunes through corruption and power that comes with being member of the parliament.

The best way to break the hold of the feudal lords and elite on the political power in this country is to adopt the system of proportional representation for electing our parliamentarians. Under this system people vote for the parties rather than the individual candidates in a single constituency and the parties get representation in the parliament on the basis of the percentage of votes that they poll. The advantage of this system is that it reflects the real support for the political parties among the masses and also ensures the presence of smaller and regional parties in the parliament making the legislature a truly representative body. The party leaders are spared of the black mail of the electables and they can nominate really competent and educated people from different walks of national life to represent the party in the parliament. The system also eliminates the possibility of horse trading and floor-crossing for personal gains. To make this system really workable voting will also have to be made compulsory so that every registered voter can exercise his right of franchise.

The possibilities of unnecessary wrangling between the political parties on matters like the date of elections and the formation of care taker set up, must also be removed permanently. Like in US the parties must agree on one date on which the election will be held after every five years and the matter should no more be the prerogative of the sitting government to decide. Similarly the formation of the care taker set up should also be decided once and for all so that the parties can focus more on their programmes rather than wasting their energies on non substantive issues. Judiciary is the most respectable and trusted institution of the country and it would be advisable for the parties to agree on the point that the latest retired and living judge of the Supreme would head the care taker set up and he would be free to choose his team to hold free and fair elections and also run the affairs of the government till the new elected government assumes charge.

These changes are not possible at the moment but after the elections the parties represented in the parliament must go for these changes if they are really interested in strengthening democracy. It would also help in establishing the ascendency of the parliament over all other state institutions and scuttle their ability to overlord or dictate the elected governments, besides nurturing democracy. It must be understood by all the stakeholders in the future of this country that democracy, the recipe suggested by the Quaid, was the only way to achieve the objectives of independence and winning an honourable place for Pakistan in the comity of nations.