It has now been irrevocably proved that our lower House of Legislature is not sacrosanct. A clear message has been sent to the nation that anything uttered on its august floor must never be accepted as the truth, but a political statement or in simpler terms – a lie. By implication therefore, gone is the credibility of any law passed therein as well as that of the annual national budget. Since legislators and political leaders are required to be role models, we are now being taught that lying is good – that corruption and perfidy are noble pursuits.

As if dissatisfied with the level of dignity and character being demonstrated by the ruling party’s spokespeople, all norms of decency were trampled underfoot by a sitting minister, who used language (and that too on the Supreme Court premises) that violated the lowest form of decency. What the speaker failed to comprehend (and perhaps will never do so) was that his words would expose his own moral failings than harm the person being targeted. I for one would not be surprised if the new Chief Justice categorises the reported language used within earshot of the Apex Court as contempt.

We as a nation are suffering from hunger – hunger to get rich in the shortest possible time no matter what the route; hunger to obtain and retain power, tossing all vestiges of morality to the four winds and hungry for anything we can obtain free without hard work. This hunger has made us gluttonous, a stark example of which can be seen in ostentatious four wheelers, weddings and homes. Believe it or not, but in a recent marriage, the guest list was filtered on the criterion of owning SUVs, so that the ‘baraat’ would be composed of this elite brand of transportation. Our gluttony is also visible during wedding or political dinners, where a stampede usually occurs towards food stations, much to the envy of vultures fighting for carrion.

A stage has arrived, where we have seriously begun to question if democracy is really suitable for a nation such as ours, where indicators such as literacy, law and order, industrialisation, per capita income etc. are abysmally low. There is a very large segment of educated middle class people, who are of the opinion that what we need is a dictator, who can ruthlessly enforce the rule of law and merit. Under prevailing conditions, this notion appears very attractive, but where are we to find a ‘benign dictator’, with unimpeachable credentials. The very notion reflects the frustration besetting the Pakistani nation and requires a serious rethink of our political direction.

The closest we can come to a one-man rule, while retaining a democratic norm, is a unicameral presidential system. The core features of such a system include election of the President on adult franchise and his investment with the combined powers currently resting with the Head of the Executive and the Head of State. This would also prevent the elected individual from falling hostage to the goodwill of the legislature, as is happening in the current system. The presidential cabinet could then be a mix of technocrats and politicians with impeccable antecedents and checks and balances maintained by forging a triumvirate relationship between the Executive i.e. The President, the Supreme Court and the Legislature (as has been done in the United States).

I have been witness to something that resembled such a system, which put Pakistan in a position of envy amongst the comity of nations during the Ayub Khan era, so much so that South Korea borrowed our model to become an East Asian industrial giant. Sadly enough, our own system collapsed due to a lack of checks and balances and a leader whose resolve was weakened by the machinations of political advisors.

It is now time that our rulers picked up and read the history and causes of political change. It is time that they emerged from the cocoon that detaches them from reality and the pulse of the people. It is time that delusions of grandeur and dynastic succession, of the myth of indispensability are set aside and a pragmatic down to earth introspective exercise is undertaken to set matters right before it is too late.