The reluctance of Pakistan's ruling elite to let parliamentary system of government work and grow according to the Westminister model is considered by political scientists as one of the dominant causes for the failure of democracy to sink roots in the Islamic republic and thereby help develop a stable society. The people have suffered much from the elite's disinclination to follow the prescribed path. The Pakistanis, who had tied hopes with the Pakistan Peoples Party to reverse the process of authoritarian growth out of a corrupted westminister doctrine, feel betrayed. It is so because the leadership has installed a mechanism which is an absolute distortion of the democratic tradition. In fact the pretension of parliamentary supremacy is nothing but a mockery of the idea. All the people have seen so far is one man, the president, with limited constituency, governing the state while the prime minister as leader of Parliament and therefore representing the national constituency appears sidelined. The executive power which according to intent of the constitution rests with prime minister is exercised by the president. This indeed is a flagrant violation of the intent of constitution as well as will of the people. In their more than sixty years of history as independent nation, Pakistanis have witnessed time and again, that shift of executive power from prime minister to president has eventually led to the rise of dictatorship. Malik Ghulam Mohammad was the first to establish one-man rule by dismissing the prime minister, and the assembly which was a declared sovereign body. He was followed by his disciple Sikandar Mirza who acquired the executive power and eventually became the absolute ruler. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto went to the other extreme by stripping president of all powers and himself becoming master of the combined authority of president and prime minister. So much so that every presidential order had to be counter signed by the PM Bhutto to become legal. It is said that the nation might have been spared a protracted dictatorship of Zia, had Bhutto left some emergency powers with the president. Zia dismissed Prime Minister Junejo when the latter started tempering with the dictator's illegally acquired authority and began using executive powers of the prime minister which belonged to him. Perhaps the classic example of a presidential usurpation of prime minister's executive power is provided by Ghulam Ishaq Khan who dismissed two prime ministers i.e. Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, by using authority which in the parliamentary democracy belonged to the prime minister. He ignored repeated public reminder that under the parliamentary dispensation, the president like the British Queen, is only a figure head, the real executive powers belong to prime minister. Whatever democratic principles were spared by GIK were systematically destroyed by General Musharraf. The people's party leadership has disappointed it's supporters and sympathisers by placing real authority in the hands of president and by reducing the prime minister to the status of his henchman. The Charter of Democracy which late Benazir had so proudly claimed as an achievement, her successor is discarding it with contempt. Loudly pronounced commitments to democracy are dropped one by one. What is upheld in theory is abandoned in practice. It is feared that same would happen to the present occupant of the office which happened to his predecessors. The dynamic of power are such that one is tempted to gather more and more authority around himself inevitably landing into footsteps of a dictator with the strong probability of causing national disaster. It is said that 'all power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely'. Next step from absolute corruption is collapsing of the state. Perhaps the greatest harm to the functioning of parliamentary democracy has been done by the induction of section 58-2(b) in the constitution. It was intended to strengthen a dictatorial rule, and was hoped by the citizenry that with the return of political government the much-hated clause will go. It was dropped as expected during the second term of Muslim League (N) government, but to our misfortune was reinstituted when General Musharraf staged the military coup in 1999. It appears that the people have never accepted 58-2(b) and the leaders, civil and military alike, with authoritarian mindset had never really rejected it. For instance the PPP showed it's willingness to work under the said clause during GIK and Leghari presidency as did Muslim League (N), although the latter should also be credited for casting away the hated clause during its second term. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani must have surprised the nation when talking to newsmen on January 14 he suggested keeping balance between the powers of prime minister and president as the political parties began discussion on removing the 17th amendment. The surprise could have been caused by three factors. One, in the parliamentary system all executive powers rest with the prime minister and there is no room for the president to share these powers. This practice is solemnly followed by members of common wealth who run their governments under the parliamentary system. These include Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. In all these countries head of state enjoys only ceremonial powers while the real authority rests with the prime minister. One wonders that if the system could work well in aforementioned countries why the heads of state need to share powers in Pakistan? The second factor which goes against the suggestion of maintaining balance between powers of prime minister and president, is the need to keep Parliament supreme. Otherwise the system would be put in jeopardy. As it is in the parliamentary system all powers are drawn from the Parliament; it legislates nation's laws, could amend the constitution, elects president and prime minister and can also dismiss them etc. In the Islamic Republic, the Parliament is considered sovereign after God Almighty. Therefore neither prime minister nor president can be allowed to supersede the Parliament. Any action to the contrary will inevitably lead to the collapse of the system as it has often happened in Pakistan. Ultimate victim would be the democracy. Last of the three factors which goes against those who advocate "balance" between powers of the prime minister and president is based on historical reasoning. The idea of Pakistan was conceived by its founders as a country with parliamentary system of government. Why? Because they had experience of it, though limited, through constitutional reforms introduced by the British from time to time. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah picked up the Act of 1935 and amended it to serve as Pakistan's constitution till a permanent constitution was drafted. Hence the parliamentary system is part of Pakistan's political culture. Writing in his famous essay on Representative Government' John Stuart Mill nineteenth century philosopher: "The people for whom the form of government is intended must be willing to accept it; or at least not so unwilling as to oppose an insurmountable obstacle to its establishment." The writer is a freelance columnist