Now that a few amendments to the constitution – Article 62, 63 etc, are in the offing it is time we started thinking of the implementing measures that would ensure real democracy in letter and spirit in the country. One of the causes for the democracy not taking solid roots in Pakistan has been the concentration of too much of power in the person of the PM, which has often resulted in a tussle between the Heads of the Government (Prime Ministers) and the Heads of the State (Governor Generals/Presidents) over power sharing between the two.
Right from the days of Governor General Ghulam Muhammad, dissolving the Constituent Assembly and firing the PM Kh. Nazim ud Din, seeds of discord were sown between the two Heads. The impasse became so acute that the first President of Pakistan, Major General (R) Iskander Mirza had to impose the first Martial Law in the country. Thereafter, in almost all the successive governments both tried to curtail the powers of the other through constitutional measures and amendments, some of them comically unconstitutional. Subtle designed efforts were made to reduce the importance of the Presidents by installing totally tutelary figurehead Presidents like Ch. Fazal Ilahi and Mr. Muhammad Rafiq Tarar. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto while stepping down from the Presidential pedestal to become the PM brought along all the Presidential protocol baggage and fanfare - the ADCs, the Military Secretary, the National Anthem, the First Lady etc. etc to the PM’s office.
Nowhere in the world is the PM entitled to such protocols. Our politicians never tire of citing the Indian democratic traditions they totally ignore this aspect of simplicity of the Indian PM. He just appears on television to address the nation without any fanfare, no national anthem, no national Flag, no nothing. Such flamboyant ostentation unconsciously breeds haughtiness into the head of the Chief Executive, inculcating hegemonic behaviour towards others.
I would, therefore, as a first step towards ensuring mutual respect between the two highest offices and of the late epic judiciary, suggest that all such protocol be withdrawn from the PM immediately. Realizing that the Head of State is the head of the country and PM is the head of government – an executive head only. Similarly the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is the head of judiciary in the country. They are institutions and must respect and not let down each other. Each one of them and other institutions are important for the democracy to flourish in the country. Each one has a definite role to play. They must strengthen each other instead of competing against each other in trying to establish hegemony over the other.
COL. RIAZ JAFRI (RETD),
Rawalpindi, August 30.