It has been 70 years since the last viceroy left the subcontinent. But, still, we as a nation are unable to set the direction of the country. The debate 'which system suit this country’' has been surfaced once again specifically since Imran Khan led PTI saddled the power. Imran Khan has had acrimonious feelings regarding the current parliamentary form of government which he has expressed at many national and international forums openly and euphemistically. His strong admiration towards Ayyub khan’s policies and surge in economic figures during the four military regimes show khan’s proclivity towards authoritarianism. President Dr Arif Alvi also showed his concerns regarding the current system in a TV interview. This has rung tocsin in media circles, democratic spheres and civil society and also draw the attention of academia to newly surfaced debate.

The proponents of the presidential form of government, consider it a panacea to every blot we have. Many believe that in the presidential system a team of competent technocrats could resolve the country’s governance issues and ensure inclusive and sustainable development. Just to ensure the inclusion of technocrats in the cabinet, is it necessary to tickle with the system on which the whole nation agreed forty-five years ago? Would not it be better to pass a constitutional amendment to increase the number of technocrats in the cabinet while remaining within the system? Ironically, a party system that has even failed to legislate on a single issue in its first eight months is maligning the system for its own negligence.  

“Despite having many flaws in the current system, the answer to our all problems lies within the system.”

The second important argument presented by many in favor of presidential rule is the surge in economic figures during the four military regimes. The economic boom during the military-led presidential rule was superficial and based on the short-term monetary influx. The major factor contributed in this quasi development was international economic assistance given by the United States and its allies to the military dictators as a reward of their services in the containment of communism and subsequently in the war against terrorism. A deep analysis of Pakistan’s economy shows how democratic governments have dealt with the issues created by perennial military rule.

Thirdly, many intellectuals in Pakistan eulogizes the success of the presidential system in the United States and China while ignoring political, cultural and demographical differences between Pakistan and others mentioned above. How a system can work in Pakistan merely because it works in the US? Pakistan has a diversified society divided on the basis of provincialism, regionalism, nationality, and ethnicity. The presidential rule might create fear in the marginalized communities and could cause a serious blow to national integration as we have witnessed the consequence of Ayyub Khan's long rule in the form of secession of East Pakistan. The parliamentary system of government with strong federating units ensures the rights of small and marginalized communities and gives them a sense of protection.  

Another limitation for the presidential rule in Pakistan is its multi-party political system. This system works in countries having single or two-party system like China and the United States. In Pakistan, there are one hundred and twenty plus small and big parties registered with Election Commission of Pakistan. Majority of these parties are regionally based and exploiting nationalistic, ethnic and religious sentiments. Under the presidential system, the power-sharing among these parties could not possible in the near future and any attempt to suppress ethnic sentiment could create an environment of discontent. Secondly, in the current political predicament, is it possible for PTI led the government to bring all political elite on one page and overturn the system which was agreed unanimously forty-five years ago? Of course not, because neither Imran Khan has capacity nor will. So such absurd rhetoric yields nothing but suspicion and predicament.    

In Pakistan, the inter-provincial relations have never been so amicable. The blame game of using each other natural resources and unequal distribution of federal revenues has already hollowed the foundations of the state. Punjab being the largest province has always been accused of exploiting other provinces resources. Punjabis aristocracy is seen by the people of small provinces with suspicion and animosity. The apprehension that in presidential system Punjab having more than fifty percent of the total population will be able to select its own president will never let this system acceptable to the small provinces. It could create suspicion in the minds of people belonging to other provinces against Punjab and establishment. 

The argument that the parliamentary form of government has failed in Pakistan is baseless and has no valid foundation. This country is directly ruled by military dictators for more than thirty-five years under the presidential system. A deep analysis shows that the political, economic and social conditions of the country went from bad to worse during the military regimes. So, it is wrong to say that the presidential system could solve our all problems. It is true that the parliamentary form of government has many flaws but, still, no other system has proved better than the current one in uniting a diversified country like Pakistan.