President Musharraf has left the building. He announced his much anticipated resignation this past week and while pundits will go on and on about how a reform-minded, patriotic individual turned into a one-man machine against all policies he had instituted for Pakistan’s reform, I am more concerned what should we do next?
Musharraf was a military ruler – despite his few years of rule under the guise of a civilian presidency. I have no hesitations in saying I supported him when he came into power. But I also know I grew quite wary of him in his last year. As a friend noted, he seemed to have gone a bit nuts and delusional – possibly going so far in believing in himself that he could not see how he was the biggest enemy of himself. Either that, or he basically cut himself off from all sense of reality by surrounding himself with sycophants who had little concern for his or Pakistan’s interest while giving him advice.
The debate in Pakistan rages on how should Pakistan find its rulers? We have switched between parliamentary democracy and military dictatorship too many times to know that neither is perfect and neither works. The politicians complain they were never given full power, and military complains the politicians work against Pakistan’s interests when they are not in power. Blah blah blah…both have failed us in governance. As a Pakistani, I have lost trust and faith in any of these institutions: government, parliament, military, judiciary and media.
So if the institutions are corrupt or incompetent, and if there is no hope of improving them in the near term (esp given our internal and external security crises which leave us no room for contemplation and long term planning), then here is a proposal that appeals to me. Why not invest in individuals?
What I mean is, forget the fact that elections should be held on party basis, and politicians alone should run in elections to be elected to the parliament, and then the president and the prime-minister is chosen by the parliamentarians? Why not hold elections where any individual, representing a religious party, a political party, military, non-profit sector, media, or industry can run for elections for the post of the President of Pakistan. Let that one-man campaign (of course supported by his/her supporters and fans) present his/her plan to the entire Pakistani nation and if he/she wins, let them rule for 4-5 years in an autocratic manner.
This way the nation can choose, essentially via a referendum, if we want the military dictator, a corrupt politician, an honorable philanthropist, or the president of some other country to rule Pakistan. In an uneducated country, this removes all the mess of political manifestos (which frankly don’t mean much in Pakistan anyways) and horse-trading etc at the national level , and allows us to formalize a one-man rule, which is anyhow the way it works right now. Except that in my proposed process, that one-man is elected directly by the people and not by any other method.
Anyways. I am no political genius…the proposal above may be shot at by many people who have either thought of it before and discarded for many reasons, or by those who can’t find this in textbooks and hence cannot comprehend the subtleties that i am obviously ignoring. This might be a tongue and cheek idea with little merit, but it is worth at least talking about as a general framework. As an ordinary Pakistani, I can only say that when it comes to national governance, I am sick of politicians, of the military and all other institutions that have failed us in the past and will not change even over a few decades time. I want reform and change, and this is my way of saying that I want my vote to count where it matters most, i.e. to the person sitting at the very top. The King (or Queen) of Pakistan.