Defects in the existing system
of governance and their remedies
By Col(R) SYED AMJAD MUKHTAR SHAH
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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