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“Pakistani airwaves have gone into an overdrive extolling the virtues of a presidential system over a parliamentary system…”

“With an equal number of deprecators need I add!”

“Right as if the battle lines needed to be further drawn.”

“Yeah but the question is whether any political party – be it The Khanzadehs, be it the Nawalas of Nawaz Sharif or be it the Zardis of Zardari sahib – has the two-third majority to change the constitution and transform our parliamentary system into a presidential system…”

“No and even if Zardari sahib the great cobbler of reconciliation politics supports the system…”

“Yep I would have thought he would be supportive of the presidential system because without any change in our constitution he ruled the country for five years as the president…”

“Because he was not eligible to stand on account of his education qualifications; anyway none of our military adventurers wanted to be the prime minister and yet wielded absolute power…”

“There you go though Zardari sahib’s powers were not as absolute if you know what I mean…”

“Ha ha, I know precisely what you mean and my question to you is: did Zardari exercise powers that were over and above those of a civilian prime minister?”

“Hey stop, we have always had civilian prime ministers (except Ayub Khan) – they may have been non-resident Pakistanis, they have been associated with multilaterals, they may have been plucked out of a hat like The Buzz, the current chief minister of Punjab, or…”

“I get it, but my question remains: did Zardari sahib exercise powers over and above those of a civilian prime minister? Powers that Zardari sahib claims he voluntarily gave up.”

“No his power to influence policy was directly proportional to those available to his selected prime minister…”

“He had to dump one of his selected prime ministers and replaced him with Raja sahib…”

“And don’t forget Gilani’s acquiescence to being dumped made him relevant again, relevant even though his constituents never voted for him in the elections……”

“As the current leader of the opposition in the Senate!”

“Right, so going back to the merits or demerits of a presidential system let me state that in a civilian set up our presidents have been rubber stampers and in a military set up they have wielded power that may not have been on paper…”

“And by paper you are referring to the constitution that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi rightly insists must be upheld and…”

“Learn to distinguish between what is on the ground and what is on paper!”

“Hmmmmm, de facto versus de jure.”

“Yep.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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