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Politics & Policy
Defects in the existing system of governance and their remedies

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Politics & Policy

July 02 - 08, 2001

Our country is faced with a variety of problems, which need to be clearly identified, researched and resolved. The basic issue is how all these problems developed, how interested persons nurtured them, and how gradually our country was brought to this sorry state of affairs. The main factor, which emerges, is that great inherent imbalance exists between the main components of the system i.e. Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary. The analysis leads to the clear conclusion that the present political system is no longer capable of effectively resolving our problems and enabling this country to grow to maturity, and cope with the imperatives of the modern age of the 21st Century. The defects and required changes are being identified and discussed in this article.

Systems of Governance: Three main systems of democratic governance are Parliamentary, Presidential and Congressional. They differ mainly in the mode of selection of persons for various posts and the distribution of power to legislate, control finances, and execution of laws and administration. Their main characteristics are given below

In the Parliamentary system the legislative as well as the executive power lies in the hands of the Parliament. There is usually a titular head of state (Queen/President). The parliament is elected by the people, and the party/parties who gain the majority make the government. The head of the majority become the head of the government (Prime Minister), and members of his party/parties become the Ministers of the country. The Prime Minister loses his post if his party loses majority or a vote of no confidence is passed. The Parliament can be dissolved by the titular head of State on the advice of the Prime Minister, for re-elections. This system is largely prevalent in the countries of the old British Empire.

In the Presidential System the legislature is directly elected and the Head of State (President) is elected directly/through an electoral college. He makes a government and can also dissolve the legislature. Ayub Khan's System of Government was Presidential in form as the President is the dominant entity. A titular head of state is not required.

The Congressional System is present in USA. This legislature is known as the Congress. It is the dominant component of the System, and hence the term Congressional System. It cannot be dissolved by the President or the Supreme Court. The main function of the Congress is to Legislate i.e. to make laws for governing, allocation of funds and authority to the Executive Branch for its functioning. It also oversees the government. The President and the Vice President are directly elected by a system of electoral votes.

Defects of the Parliamentary System: Presently our existing system of governance is the British Parliamentary system. Its analysis and comparison with other system easily identifies major shortcomings and defects in it. It falters badly in the separation and balance between the three main components of a good system of governance.

Its First Major Defect is that the elected representatives also work as executive heads of the government by becoming Ministers. This creates a great Imbalance in the main components of the system of governance. The Parliamentarians, who are also, unfortunately, in many cases, lacking in sufficient appropriate grooming, education and training, become the ministers also. Nay, in many cases, the primary purpose of being elected is to become ministers and thereby loot the country. The absence of proper checks and balances, led to the breakdown of the Administration, which became a tool in the hands of the unbridled politicians. The system of working was blighted by nepotism and crony style of working. The bad ministers misused power and the bureaucracy was also subverted. In many cases the bureaucrats were pressurised, brow beaten and, in case of resistance, removed and replaced by less strong individuals. This led to great deterioration of the administration and development. We have suffered very heavily as a result. This needs to be stopped if we are to survive and progress. Even now our Civil Service is one of the best in the world and it has been largely instrumental in keeping the administration of the country going, despite all odds and interference by the elected representatives and the denudation in the protection, which the British system gave it against the ravages of unscrupulous elected representatives. The needs of the modern world have made it necessary that Experts, with lots of experience and knowledge of each ministry, should be Ministers, instead of amateur politicians.

In the Presidential and Congressional forms of government The Members Of The Legislature, Senators Or Congressmen, Are Not Allowed To Become Ministers (Secretaries as they are called in USA). Nor can they hold any civil/public office. We must impose this restriction / ban. Only Technocrats be made ministers. This will ensure that many of the persons, who become parliamentarians with the primary aim of becoming ministers, and thereby looting the country, and to enjoy the benefits thereof, will not find it in their interest to contest in the next elections. Good riddance!!! If they want to become ministers then they will have to quit the legislature. This one change alone will tremendously improve our governance.

The Second Major defect is that the Parliament creates the executive head of the state. In the British system, he is elected by the parliament by obtaining a majority of the votes, and is named the Prime Minister to the Queen/President. To obtain these votes he has to wheel and deal and he is forced to make all sorts of concessions and promises to the parliamentarians, whose support and vote is crucial for his getting the post of the Chief Executive (Prime Minister). Thus, he is blackmailed and compromised even before he becomes the head of the government. Moreover, he is dependent on the maintenance of the majority to stay in power, and must be constantly watchful and struggle to keep the lotas on his side. Most of his time is wasted in such pursuits to save his chair. Little attention is paid to the problems of the country and the people suffer heavily due to resultant bad governance / lack of governance. Obviously this system promotes corruption, and ensures that persons of character, who cannot compromise on principles, will rarely come through unscathed. Thus in the existing system the Head of this Islamic Republic will invariably be a corrupted person.

In the Congressional and Presidential systems the head of the executive branch is called the President. He is not elected by the congress/parliament but he is directly elected by a system of Electoral Votes. It is not by a purely adult franchise on the basis of one man-one-vote. Each State/province has electoral votes assigned to it according to its population. If a candidate wins the majority of the votes in that state/province then he gets all the electoral votes. Moreover, his election is not dependant on the number of seats his party has in the Congress. He is thus largely saved from the compulsion of stooping to wheeling and dealing, with parliamentarians, to get elected and to remain in power after election. Thus election from outside the parliament reduces corruption very greatly and is to be preferred. Again this system is more Islamic as it is less likely to promote corruption. A titular head of the state like the Queen / President with all the unnecessary establishment and expense, is not required.

The Third Major Defect, and the worst kink, is that the head of the state can remain perpetually in the seat, as long his party is doing well and is being re-elected. He can only be removed when his party loses its majority in the legislature. Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher are examples. However this promotes a tendency to dictatorship, bad rule and corruption. The Prime Minister tries to remain in power, and not quit. In many cases they begin to gradually to resort to all kinds of corrupt practices to stay in power, becoming imbalanced, autocratic/dictatorial, leading to many ills in governance. In the Congressional/ Presidential system the checks are provided by laying down that the head of the State will serve a fixed term (4 yrs in USA), and may serve another similar term if re-elected. Thus dictatorship/autocracy is effectively checked. This measure will also remove some of our earlier presidents and prime ministers from taking another term of office, having already served two terms in office each.

The Fourth Defect is that the system is very heavily dependent on the presence of highly motivated, Sincere, educated and technologically highly trained individuals in the parliament / legislature. Britain was lucky to have had a large pool of such persons available to it in the last few centuries. This allowed it to reach the zenith of power, and develop economically and culturally also. However, the twentieth century saw it involved in many military adventures, and two great wars. The long duration and intensities of these wars caused massive attrition of this pool. Some farsighted persons recognized the effect of this attrition, very early. Philip Mason wrote a very valuable book, "The Men Who Ruled India", in 1923. Just after the First World War (1914-1919), the author clearly observed that the great losses suffered by the British will greatly affect the availability of "The Right Type Of Persons" to rule in India and, as early as 1923, the author expressed the apprehension that the effect may be that the empire will be lost. This book used to be a must read-book for all ICS officers. During the Second World War (1939-1945), a clear perception developed that they no longer possessed the right type of persons, in sufficient numbers, with whom to perpetuate their physical rule over their empire. This led them to quit the empire everywhere. The pressure of nationalist sentiments all round the empire was not the primary reason for their leaving. They now 'rule' us by economic means, through multi-national-corporations (MNCs).

The British style of parliamentary system of government has failed everywhere. Every country having this system is suffering. The absence of the 'Right-Type-Of-Persons' is being felt even in Britain. This is the chief cause of Britain's loss of its high place in the world order and other nations have taken its place.

History has shown that The Best System Presently Is The Congressional System which is in use in USA. This is clearly established by the simple, but very important and obvious, fact that now, not only is USA the leading power in the world, but also that all major developments in sciences, arts and every other subject are finding nurturing in that country. The cause is mainly the great strength and continuity provided by the system of government. In the system checks and balances are well provided between the Three Main Components Of The Government.

We as a nation are basically God-fearing people. Every one wants to see a system brought in which will bring checks and balances and ensure lasting stability. For our survival, it is imperative that we study its evolution and incorporate the best features of the Congressional System. Of greater interest to us is the fact that it has emerged from the British Parliamentary System and is a vast improvement on it. The development of the constitution of USA took many years. The input of ideas came from a vast variety of people, who came from many nationalities of Europe, having diverse experiences. Most were well educated and highly motivated by the desire to make a constitution which would be well balanced and provide for the needs of protecting the rights and liberties of the ordinary people, and also allow a strong Legislature, Federal Government and Judiciary to function. Their inputs and dedication produced the Congressional System.

Salient Features Of The Congressional System: Three main components of a balanced system were identified and were firmly enshrined in the new constitution. These were the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary. The main easily identifiable differences from the Parliamentary system are given in the subsequent paragraphs. The required checks and balances were imbedded in the constitution. It is quite erroneous to call it a Presidential system, as the President is not the undisputed overlord.

Legislature: The Legislature has two main parts i.e. Senate and The House of Representatives.

Senate. The Senators are elected for Six-year terms, and 1/3rd of the Senate is elected every two years. Each State is entitled to send two senators, irrespective of it's size and population. They are elected in each state and are not nominated by a party. In Pakistan the existing quotas in the Senate are un-Islamic as Islam does not recognise more than one polity. Non-Muslims have a separate entity.

House of Representatives. The seats in the House of Representatives are fixed at 435. Ingeniously the population is divided on the fixed seats and districts are demarcated accordingly. However a small state/province is provided at least one seat. They are elected for Two years.

Balancing of powers. The members of the Congress are required to maintain a constant check on the executive branch and to ensure that it operates in keeping with the laws legislated and passed in the Congress, on behalf of the people of USA. The hands of the senators and congressmen have been kept quite strong, but not too strong. The post of a member of the Congress is very prestigious and lucrative. The check is maintained by the various committees formed by the Congress in the Senate and in the House. These committees oversee the various branches of the executive branch, and ensure that they operate within the constitutional authority given to them.

Continuity. An important insurance for the continuation of the Congress is that the President or the Supreme Court cannot dissolve it. However it also does not have the power to remove the President or members of the Supreme Court, except through a procedure of impeachment. It cannot be dissolved even in case the head of the state does not have a majority in it. Also individual members cannot be removed before completing their term of office, except in case of trial and conviction or relinquishing or death.

Executive Head Of The State President

Election. Directly, but through an ingenuous adult franchise-cum-electoral system.

Majority Of The Congress Is Not Required To Stay In Power. As he is elected by a electoral college which has little to do with the Congress so he is not dependent on the need of having a majority in the legislature at all times. Thus he is not compromised at any stage by a need to satisfy the hunger of some un-principled Parliamentarians. He is not required to seek re-election if his party does not gain a majority/loses its majority. Thus, the country is saved from the agony and expense of a new election. Mr Bush's situation is a clear illustration.

Terms of Office. Two terms of 4 years, if re-elected. The President knows that he must produce results and improve the country, or else he will not be re-elected. Thus he works hard and brings in the best team. Usually he works harder in the second term as he would prefer that when he leaves the office then he will still be treated with regard and respect by his countrymen. The country is beneficiary of all his endeavours.

Removal. Only the US Congress can remove the President by impeaching him and the procedure was clearly demonstrated in the case of President Clinton's unfortunate situation. Succession. Clear line of succession is provided till next election falls due. This ensures continuity and also avoids the huge expense of a mid-term election of the President. Even USA cannot afford the expenses. The post of Vice President and the line of succession must be included in our constitution.

Selection of Ministers / Secretaries. The President selects a technocrat, as he has to make his own team, to deliver the goods to the country. The name is sent to the Senate for confirmation. The concerned committees of the Senate carry out a detailed assessment of the individual and may approve or reject the nomination. This is done in the same manner as a Human Resources Staff will try to find the right man for a job. In case of rejection another individual is placed before the committee for scrutiny. The committee gives a chance to every individual to establish his suitability and gives detailed reasons for approving or rejecting an individual. Another is then nominated for approval for the post. This is what we must do in our country to save it from the ravages of the amateurs. However we must also place suitable people in the Senate to do this efficiently.

Transition to Power. After a person is elected as President then he is required to take over from the incumbent. A gradual handing/taking proceeds and a pre-selected team of nearly 1800 persons swap over from the team of the incumbent. The change may go down to two tiers of the bureaucracy, and even lower. The appointments of many are required to be vetted, and approved by the Senate Committees. However we may modify the level to which the new incumbent may place his nominees and only gradually add posts which could be included in the list of those which are to be filled in by a new head of state.

Judiciary: The Supreme Court of the USA is very independent. The Judges of the Supreme Court are nominated by the President but may only take seat only if approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Congress does not nominate them. The judges sit on it For Life. They cannot be removed by the Congress, nor by the President, but only by imeachment by the Senate. The Judges cannot remove the President or the Congress. The Chief Justice presides on the impeachment of the President but has no authority of punishment.

Age is Not A Factor For Retirement. Some of the most momentous decisions of the American Supreme Court were given when the judges were well past our retirement age. The decisions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan may have been quite different if this had been the case in our country. We have retired some very honourable and capable Judges because of age. This nation is poorer and worse off because of this.

Power To Declare An Order Or Law To Be Unconstitutional And Immediately Invalid. The Apex Court can analyse and declare that all laws passed by the Congress are in keeping with the main provisions of the Constitution. In our case, though a law may be declared unconstitutional yet, it remains effective till it is removed from the statute books by an act of parliament. The parliamentarians are in no hurry to improve our laws, in fact they have a bad record of legislating at all. The sufferers are the common man and the voters, who are completely ignored after elections.

Number of Judges. It is fixed at Nine, in the USA. We may do this as well.

Supreme Courts of the States / Provinces. The apex courts of the States correspond to our High Courts. They are called the Supreme Courts of the respective State. The members of the State Supreme Courts have No Lien on the Supreme Court. Members of the Supreme Courts of the States do not have a lien on the Supreme Court of the United States of America. A seniority system does not exist, which may make it mandatory for the judges of the State Supreme Courts to be given places on the Supreme Court of the USA. The best people are placed on the Supreme Court of USA. In our case the seniority system, and not merit, has seen much miss-application and has not been as effective.

Re-Organising Our Supreme Court. Our situation requires drastic measures for the long term benefit and stability of our judicial system. We must Make A New Supreme Court. We should dissolve the existing Supreme Court. The new court should consist of the finest legal persons in the country, including retired judges of the Supreme Court. The best amongst them may be made the Chief Justice. This new court should consist of only 9 Judges. It should have functions and powers similar to the Supreme Court of USA, and the same terms of service. Their tenure should be for life. The members of the existing court may be reverted back to the parent High Courts. They may serve their terms in their old courts. However the tenure of service may also be increased for Life.

High Courts of Provinces. These may continue to function as hitherto. However they may also be given tenure for life. The number of judges should be fixed at nine. This will be quite sufficient when viewed in the context of the suggested reorganization of the provinces suggested in the later paragraphs.

Defects in Organisation of Provinces and Lower levels.

Provinces Are Too Large. Our existing organizational structure is too cumbersome for our growing needs. Our Provinces are too large to be efficient administrative units. Population and size of our provinces is far larger then most states of USA. This leads to very great difficulties for the residents, stultifies growth and results in poor administration. Even dispensation of justice and disposal of cases is greatly slowed down due to the large workload on the system.

Urbanisation Of Only A Few Cities. The provincial capital perforce draws the bulk of attention and financial outlay. Thus only a few cities have developed and provide quality services to people. If the Provinces were reduced in size and increased in number, we would have more provincial headquarters and more cities would develop which would have quality services available for the people. More hospital, universities, colleges, industries, recreational facilities e.g. parks etc, and far better dispensation of justice will follow.

Growth of Training and Competition. The presence of only a few provinces mean very few professionals/teams of various types can be allowed to compete. Also the intimate backing, support, emotional and professional pride which the individuals get from a smaller province is simply not possible in our existing setup of very large provinces. It will also provide more avenues for sportsmen, intellectuals and cultural activity. The development and grooming of politicians will also be better as more provincial assemblies will be available for their training. The greater number of posts of MPAs will also make the politicians happy.

Smaller Province Will Help In Fulfilling The Requirement Of Shariat. Each Hakam-e-Waqt, and Hakam of an area, is answerable to Allah for the state of his Mumliqat. The smaller the administrative divisions the easier it will be for him to acquit himself before Allah. Our great Khalifas lost sleep over the state of even individuals in their domain. Smaller provinces will help live up to the requirements of Allah.

Recommended Re-Organisation of Provinces

Conversion of Divisions into Province. The existing divisions are already fully functional and can be easily converted into provinces. Governors and Lieutenant Governors be elected in the same manner as the President and Vice President. The authority of the existing provinces be devolved on the new provinces (old divisions). The earlier example of the creation, and undoing, of One Unit experience clearly demonstrates that our bureaucracy is quite capable of handling such transition without great difficulty.

Provincial Assemblies. Divisional Councils be renamed provincial assemblies. They should be two tiered; with senate and house of representatives. Restriction on the number of seats can be placed on a permanent basis to reduce expenses.

Little Increase In Manpower. It will be minimal, as the existing bureaucratic setup will be dealing with the requirements. Some posts may have to be re-designated/upgraded. The post of commissioner can be converted into the post of Chief Secretary, and likewise heads of various branches can be re-designated also.

Judicial Setup And High Courts. Branches of High Courts are already functioning in most major towns. These can be converted into the High Courts of the new Provinces and more judges can be added to them. However the number must be fixed at nine. This will greatly speed up the disposal of cases, as more judges (of High Courts) will be available for dealing with them, due to increase in the number of High Courts, e.g Sindh would have 54 judges. Moreover as judges will be more intimately knowledgeable about the environment and peculiar nature of the area and the people so decisions will be fairer and fast. Their tenure should be for life.

District Headquarters. They are the equivalent tier of the County in USA. Here also the District Council should play the role of the County Council. However the separation of the executive, legislature and judiciary must be ensured at all level. The elected head of a tier e.g. Nazims should not become members of the upper tier. Separate individuals be elected for the upper tiers. Presence of an elected executive to head the governance at this level needs to be planned. The district council should do the legislative functions and the executive head should be elected. DC should remain a separate entity, with some alteration in his role. His real designation is District Collector and District Magistrate.

District Judiciary. The judiciary be bureaucratic, as at present, as the Qazi system of Islamic governments is akin to the present system of trained judges / qazis, at all levels. The institution of the Executive Magistrate is very cost-effective in dealing with day to day law and order situations and provides a very easy and free means or resolving disputes and law and order problems. This must be retained

Separation of the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary. At all tiers the separation of the legislative, executive and judiciary must be ensured.

Technocrats. Suitably trained technocrats, who are well qualified for the tasks assigned to them, must hold all executive posts. Job descriptions should be prepared and used for selection. This will also help the incumbent to understand his authority, tasks and resources available for their accomplishments. Suitable salary packages/structure will also have to be developed to enable them to feel attracted towards the jobs.

Salaries And Corruption: One major reason for growth of corruption amongst government functionaries at all levels is that the salary structure has become totally incompatible with the job and the realities of its requirements. One of the main reasons for the high integrity and clean image of the British offical was the high emoluments and perks which they enjoyed. To illustrate a few it is worth mentioning that Sir Charles Napier of Sindh, had a salary of approximately Rs. 2,500 per month, in 1865. John Jacob of jacobabad, was drawing Rs. 1,500 as a captain. In 1906, according to the Imperial Gazetteer of India, the salaries of senior officals were as follows:-

(1) Viceroy Rs. 2,50,000 per annum;
(2) Member of the Council of India Rs. 80,000 per annum
(3) C-in-C Rs. 1,00,000. per annum
(4) Governors Rs. 1,20,000 per annum
(5) Lt Governors Rs. 1,00,000. per annum
(6) Chief Commissioners Rs. 50,000 to Rs 62,000. per annum.

The need for corruption was largely obviated. We must review the salary structure of all officials.

Ayub Khan's Reforms: The reforms and administrative setup developed and implemented by Late President Ayub Khan was largely based on the American Congressional system, but with modifications to adjust it to our environments. The Basic Democracies concept had many benefits and it was copied by many other countries and led to their progress, prosperity and growth. A member was provided for 1200 voters. However, its use as an electoral college, instead of having one-man-one-vote, did not suit our politicians and they had it dismembered. President Ayub Khan's greatest mistake, and his greatest inadvertent disservice to Pakistan, was that he faulted when he was devolving power. According to his constitutional framework, the President's appointment should have been given to the speaker of the National Assembly. If this had been done then continuity of the constitution, and the system, would have been ensured. It would have continued to flourish. The dismemberment of the country may not have taken place and Bhutto and Mujeeb, both would have had to develop entirely different strategies, within the framework of a fairly strong constitution. In addition, as martial law would not have been declared so the Armed Forces would have escaped the censures and losses, which they later suffered.

Summary: The advantages of the Congressional System over the British Parliamentary System are obvious from the very fact that America is being run by technocrats and is progressing whereas the countries using the parliamentary system, and the amateur parliamentarians of the British mold, are having great problems of stability and honesty of working. The latest examples are those of our own country, India and Israel, where the Governments had to hold re-election after a very short time. In India, the government was de-stabilized by the difference of one vote. Even Israel has a constant problem of instability, and consequently the Arab-Israeli problem is unresolved. Japan has problems of making a government, and they have had 10 governments in as many years. If the Head of the Government were directly elected for a term of 4 years, then this problem would have been taken care off.

Many other aspects, which require attention of experts, for nation building and good governance, are beyond the scope of this short paper and may be addressed separately by experts.

Conclusion: We have to get rid of the British Parliamentary System and shift to the Congressional System of Government. Assistance and advice of USA can be sought for support for analysis, training required by our officials, and for identifying details of aspects which need to be changed. They can help to develop a time frame as well as a legislative and organizational structure to implement the required changes, in consultation with our experts.

The general feeling of everyone is that this is the best, and, in the opinion of many, the last chance the country has to straighten out the mess which years of lawlessness and looting have placed it in. The Armed Forces have a clear mandate and a failure now will leave us worse off than at the rock bottom. We need to succeed now.

We also owe it to our young generations and the many generations to come, that our generation must leave this country in a much better state than we found it. We are also answerable to our many brethren who have laid down their lives, and countless others who have made very great sacrifice for the well being of this country. All of us will do well to bear in mind the epitaph to an unknown soldier, written by Auden. It reads as follows:-

To save your world you asked this man to die.
Would this man, could he see you now, ask why
W H Auden