EDITORIAL: As the PTI-led government nears the end of its last but one year it is only natural that the PTI chairman and prime minister, Imran Khan, tends to see its future through the prism of the years gone by in government. The questions what he promised and where and why he failed to succeed seems to be his bitter recollection. One such platform where he could speak his mind without due reservation was his meeting with a group of diplomats and journalists last Sunday.
Without much of ifs and buts, he blamed his failure to bring about his promised reforms on unavailability of a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. Almost invariably, the opposition-dominated Senate rejected what the National Assembly passed as government legislation.
But then that was part of the game. The only option left with the government was a joint session of parliament, and that did happen. Of course it is a problematic option with the government, but the door on legislation remains open. Why should then Imran Khan yearn for a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly? His predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, did have that unique privilege of absolute majority in the parliament in the late 1990s, but law-making even then was just average.
“No reforms can be made in the country unless the government enjoyed a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. Running the government by giving share to all is not a big deal, but if you want to bring about reforms you have to have a two-thirds majority,” according to the prime minister. Should that be the accepted criterion of a functional democracy it is only logical that he should have refused to form and head a government cobbled up through a coalition in the National Assembly.
If political history of our country is any guide, its moral in sum total is an unforgiving penchant for total state control. The leader at the top, be he in uniform or mufti, is never shy of asking for more power. And that was made available – be it by a martial law regulation or constitutional amendment – as was the case with the Eighth Amendment that empowered the president to dissolve parliament.
Now Imran Khan wants a two-thirds majority to be in position to actualize what he kept promising all through his political career. The day before, his supporters were underscoring the need for replacing the present parliamentary system with presidential system in the country. Of course, in the given constitutional ambience, they are asking for the moon, but they haven’t been able to accept that in a federation, which Pakistan is, that is not going to happen.
It was the provinces which joined together to make Pakistan and there is no reason why they should not persevere in their individuality. Given the powers handed over to the provinces under the Eighteenth Amendment, it is only fair and politically wise to concede what the provinces have powers to run their affairs.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022