Lure of the outsider


    Comment by S.R.H. Hashmi:

    I bet some people would be terribly upset with the writer for not mentioning the ‘caliphate’ while thinking of an alternate political system. After all, it was not all that far back that the city walls throughout the country used to be adorned with the slogan ‘caliphate is the best’. Perhaps the installation of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as a caliph has put some off but I suppose support for the system still exists among a particular breed within Pakistan.

    However, jokes aside, I do agree with the writer that the reform is unlikely to come from the present breed of politicians in Pakistan, which happens to be the biggest, and perhaps the only beneficiary of the system.

    And pressure for the change will not come even from the masses who, despite being the worst sufferers, are unlikely to rise above their ethnic and other prejudice and present an effective, united opposition to the government.

    And that leaves the only pressure groups as armed forces and the superior judiciary.

    However, the ever-growing cordiality between the present army chief and the Prime Minister rules out the possibility of any effective role from this source anytime soon.

    And that leaves the judiciary which is known to have played a role in this respect, though in both directions.

    I believe that competent, dedicated people of integrity can deliver despite weaknesses in the system while the ‘bent’ people can mess up even a good system which, though sound in theory, has not been consolidated through decades of operation during which possible hitches have been removed, and the system has been further strengthened through effective checks and balances, bringing it to a level where even the top boss is kept firmly in place and forced to act strictly within the limits of his clearly-defined powers.

    And that leaves only the superior judiciary.

    I hope that either acting on its own through a suo motu action, or on a petition from some concerned citizen, the superior judiciary defines the eligibility terms for the Assembly aspirants in an unambiguous and easily applicable manner, preferably in a check-list form which is easy to apply. That would hopefully provide a mechanism to block the entry of downright criminals into the Assemblies. Once decent persons manage to enter the Assemblies, one could hope that they will introduce more reforms and, over time, bring the system to an acceptable standard, at least.

    And as for the army chief, it would be a big favour if he facilitated the holding of the much-delayed national population census to ensure that at least the next general elections are held with the constituencies determined on the basis of latest population figures and an accurate data-base is available for planning an equitable service delivery throughout the country.