Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has shown political maturity to advise his party stalwarts to work for strengthening the democratic system and shun from petty squabbling with the opposition.
He has urged Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) to withdraw their motions that the two parties have moved in the National Assembly to seek de-seating of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MNAs. It increasingly appears that political leadership may have learnt lessons from the past.
They may want to put behind the era of dependency on the establishment for winning elections. Holding of transparent elections to ascertain the will of the people and not toeing the line of the establishment is an important element in a democracy. But elections are only the first step.
The real test of the political party, in power, is its performance. Winning or losing the next election depends on this. And, the judicial commission’s report would be a forgotten event by 2018.
The electorate will judge PML (N) in its ability to reduce or eliminate altogether loadshedding of electricity. Thus, the real test would be turning blackouts into brownouts, thus ending the curse of power outages as promised frequently by PML (N) leadership.
Taking the civilian opposition along and into confidence is an important tool to ensure continuity of democracy in the country.
There were some serious shortcomings in holding of election in 2013 – as pointed out by the Judicial Commission in its detailed report which need to be addressed fully. If Prime Minister really believes in democracy he needs to amend the constitution and rules of business of the government that equip him with almost dictatorial powers.
Elected members the world over exercise their right of vote according to the dictates of their conscience or in accordance with the wishes of their constituents. Party whips are required to ensure attendance of the elected members to ensure passage or blockade of legislations. In a parliamentary set-up, it is the Cabinet’s collective responsibility and not of the Prime Minister alone.
The PM and CMs are only first amongst equals and powers are not centralised but devolved among the Cabinet ministers. Our political parties should hold intra-party elections to elect their leadership and delegate the power to their respective executive committees or parliamentary bodies.
We know no faction of Muslim League does have a history of doing so. But All India Muslim League won the mandate of Partition of the sub-continent on a slogan which had its own momentum and was not a political party like the Indian National Congress.
It is observed that a parliament works through its committees. We need to provide funds to committees to hire researchers, academics, and lawyers to improve upon existing laws and not depend on the bureaucrats for legislations.
These committees should have the capacity to hold the executive branch accountable. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should take the lead and set the example by being more accountable to both houses. His example will then be followed by his ministerial colleagues as well.
In the process, parliament itself will be strengthened. Improvement is a continuous process. The search for perfection needs to be maintained. Holding of elections with transparency is an essential first step. Holding the reins of government in country like Pakistan is a difficult proposition. But for long-term one needs to improve governance constantly and make systems and institutions effective.
Reliance on individuals needs to be minimised. Nobody is perfect but endeavouring for it should be the overarching aim.