Volleys of accusations in the political arena by high profile politicians against each other in Pakistan politics in recent times hardly make a good impact on the public minds at large. Often these are without substantiation. This badly tarnishes image of the developing democracy in Pakistan and may even threaten the whole system. In 2018, an election year, the political scenario may project horrible scenes if timely regulatory measures are not taken.
The new political situation created by the recent statement against Pakistan issued by President Trump signals high alerts for Pakistan politics and economy. The challenges posed by this new threat involve economic and political implications. In fact this could prove a blessing in disguise for the country. The nation should gear up economically and plan on fast track basis for economic self-reliance. This covers boosting exports plan, enhance industrial and agricultural productivity and introduce services reforms to plug wastages, excessive red tape and inefficiencies in all spheres. A heavy hand against corruption should be a big priority. On the political front, the nation must show complete solidarity and shun politics on national issues. Nonetheless, Pakistan now has fairly developed defence production industry manufacturing tanks, missiles and advanced defence equipment, well advanced aeronautical and naval engineering industry manufacturing fighter planes and submarines.
Democracy, however appears to be the only option for Pakistan now. In developed democracies, governments in power, once elected are allowed to complete terms of office without obstacles to deliver their manifesto based programs and the opposition waits till the next national elections. During the currency of a term, upheavals to topple an elected government are not seen. However constructive criticism on policies goes on.
Political upheavals adversely affect the national image globally and signals message of instability of the sitting government terming a country as ‘banana republic’. In such a situation, the national economy and economic growth badly suffer.
The chequered history of democratic development in Pakistan is marked by a substandard record of political ethics which direly needs reforms to attain a level of political maturity for long term sustainably and democratic strength in the future. Both the Parliament and the Election Commission of Pakistan ought to play a pivotal role in this direction; otherwise, the democratic system may not gain the required strength matching developed democracies. In such countries, the elected government is allowed to work for its tenure till the next election unless some serious system breakdown occurs supported by a mass uprising or some top judicial verdict to step down comes.
In such a political situation in the country, it is highly imperative to evolve and enforce a political code of ethics for all political parties which alone can ensure proper development of democracy in a country like Pakistan. Political parties should not do politics at the cost of vital national interests. The Parliament and the Election Commission of Pakistan can play an effective role to evolve and enforce an effective code of ethics.
Such a draft code to be agreed by all parties should be passed by the Parliament as a part of electoral reforms. After approval of such a political code of ethics, it should then be made part of all political activities.
All contesting candidates in the next national elections should be bound to sign the political code of ethics as a precondition to contest elections. The political parties should be signatories to the code.
Non-acceptance of the code by a contesting candidate should bar the person from contesting national elections.
The proposed political code of ethics may, include the following major provisions. Firstly, no political party or its contesting candidate will make personal allegations of corruption or immorality of character without concrete evidence capable of judicial scrutiny.
No political party or its contesting candidate would use armed groups to harass or terrorise opponents. No political party or its candidate will raise issues concerning national security, armed forces or higher judiciary without culpable evidence. No political party or its candidate will raise issues concerning the ideology of Pakistan as specified in the Constitution of Pakistan. Lastly, an elected political government would be allowed to complete their term of office unless the elections are held void by the Election Commission of Pakistan or the Supreme Court of Pakistan or a no confidence motion is passed by the Parliament in a joint session.
In USA, the ethical conduct of the elected members of Congress is prescribed by either the House Ethics Manual or the Senate Ethics Manual as created and revised by the House and Senate Committees on Ethics. Pakistan may study their practices.