In part 1 I described our current system as an oligarchy being thrust down our throats as a democracy.

I also wrote about achieving outcomes that matter. For me in a nutshell every nation state is looking to become a prosperous economy with a tolerant society where all citizens have the opportunity to make something good for themselves. Where the law doesn’t discriminate against anyone. Furthermore the best process to achieving such an outcome is through democracy. Why? Because In a democracy if the governments are not working towards such national outcomes the opposition and media points out the shortcomings and the opposition presents its own plan to the public. If the public buy the message they hold the government accountable by firing them and voting in the opponent with an alternate plan. This accountability and competition with the opponent spurs on the fired guys to introspect and improve so that they get another chance at serving the public.

In Pakistan there’s clear unanimity that this process doesn’t work this way. Few in the intelligentsia have come to believe that this is so because of repeated military interventions. This reasoning has been used by the oligarchs and their apologists to justify their continuous misrule. No matter how much time an oligarchy gets it will stay the same unless broken up through new laws and executive acts. But how to break this oligarchy to become a democracy. To break any oligarchy, the rules of the game have to be rewritten.

If political parties are supposed to be accountable and compete with each other to improve themselves than that means starting the reform process from them. In Pakistan all major national political parties are cults or family heirlooms. If a political party or presidential candidate of a party loses an election in democracies around the world, that leadership more often than not steps down letting the party elect new leadership. This new leadership comes up with new ideas to present to the public and thus actual accountability takes place. Here people think accountability happened because PPP lost their federal government in 2013. If that was the case where is the new leadership? Any new ideas? Any improvement in governance in their 8th consecutive year of interrupted rule in the 2nd largest province?

Question of new leadership takes us to the question of their availability. Nawaz Sharif is indispensable because there’s no one else. Well, isn’t that convenient. First off the best way to provide alternate leadership is by having multiple tiers. In a country of 200 million not having an effective and empowered local government should be a crime in itself. Secondly its local government which will produce the new leaders. Politicians rising through the ranks learning how to govern from the grass roots up. Instead here we have Bilawal not having done a days work in his life, who will be handed the reins of the nation’s oldest political party once his dad decides to move on. In other countries someone like him would have worked his way up the channels. In this case he should have put in time in Larkana, learning the ropes of practical governance while making his ancestral seat and one of Sindh’s major cities into a model city. In our oligarchic system instead we find Bilawal parachuting straight to the chairmanship position fresh out of college.

Another way of developing better cabinets and more tiers of leadership is by having shadow cabinets so that you have a team ready to go from day one with two to three people ready for that position.

Creating internal competition within parties requires multiple tiers of government. Creating true competition between parties means making our democracy as representative as possible. Today we have in place the first past the post system. This means that whoever gets the most votes wins the constituency and goes to parliament. The problem with this system is that it’s highly unrepresentative and can be gamed. It’s unrepresentative because in most constituencies the winner has less than the majority of votes but since the majority of votes gets split between various candidates the winner takes home the prize by winning just the plurality. To give an example, as per the Election Commission of Pakistan website, in the 2013 elections, PML-N secured 17% of the total registered voter (15mn/86mn) and 33% of the total votes polled (15mn/45mn) to win 48% (130/272) of the seats on polling day. As can be seen clearly, this mandate is neither representative nor proportional as far as number of votes are concerned. Furthermore the system was gamed to perfection by the PML-N by getting 120 seats from just one province. Over here I’m not referring to the rigging allegations, just electioneering strategy.

Most of the world’s democracies are moving towards proportional representation. Nepal has been vigorously working on its constitution for the past few years ever since the civil war ended their monarchy. There are various methods to look at but the goal should be to make our Parliament as representative as possible and as effective as possible when it comes to law making. Also, with more viewpoints in Parliament it would automatically mean more competition in ideas, which is great for the Pakistani voter.

Finally, it goes without saying, that reforming and de-politicising the bureaucracy, police and judiciary is a must.

The debate in this country has to move towards this. Instead of being stuck on the civ-mil, we must move the debate forward by focusing on the root cause of our ills, which is our broken-down polity. As long as we have a polity that is oligarchic in nature it will remain unstable and threatened by other powerful interests. If the Sharif oligarchy will game this system to perfection by having Punjab in its pocket, naturally the other oligarchs from the smaller provinces will start to make their deals at upsetting the apple cart to increase their share of the spoils thus risking making the umpire a direct player in the current system. In all scenarios the loser is the country and the vast majority of its citizens.

The intelligentsia and tax payers of this country must create pressure for structural reforms rather than hearing the same time will heal all mantra. The oligarchy won’t budge an inch otherwise. They will just keep on giving cosmetic lollipops while all the while enlarging their own off shore empires. And how much more of this do we want?