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Should Pakistan take "inspiration" from American style presidential system?

DrJekyll

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As long as we believe that politics and political systems alone are going to solve our problems, we will be chasing sub optimal outcomes. Democracy does not end at selecting the government. Democracy requires that we keep holding governments accountable and for that we require strong citizen action groups. Far too many people are passive onlookers. Depending on your governance structure, you need to have these groups of citizens at mohalla, ward, assembly and constituency levels (to use Indian equivalents). Pay a weekly visit to these offices using office bearers and tell them that the government is not doing its job. Every single person needs to be involved on a rotation basis in these 'make-their-life-difficult' visits. Such tactics work. The pressure needs to be snowballed upwards in the chain of command relentlessly. We are not mature enough societies where things take care of themselves.
 

Jungibaaz

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We’re in a funny place in Pakistan, those who often rekindle the debate about a presidential system are peddling it as an alternative without explaining how it would practically benefit us. Meanwhile, a group from among them are just tired of parliamentary democracy and would love to see a powerful president with dictatorial powers, which is fine for them as long as their own preferred President is in power, but not really a basis for long term stability.

And let’s remember, we’ve had plenty of the latter in our history, governed generals of the 50s were all dictatorial President types, Ayub, Zia, Yahya, Musharraf were all of the same type. We had Presidents like Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismiss elected governments at will.

The other group attacking the current set up are those annoyed with the provincial setup. One of them is rightly annoyed that the 18th amendment wasn’t followed up with further devolution, and certain regions are held captive at the provincial level. This sub group has credibility in my view. Another sub group is annoyed at provinces taking too much revenue and leaving too little for the federal coffers, their gripe is on this and on the NFC award, this group needs to look beyond its own nose for a change and I have wilting respect for their grievances.

IMO, we should keep the parliamentary system, no need for any new failed experiments, keep the 18th amendment but begin devolution to large cities within the provincial set up. Keep the NFC award and let’s put our money where our mouth is on all of this empty rhetoric about “geoeconomics”. Given our history, my biggest gripe is that we are FAR more likely to regress to a less democratic Presidential and heavily centralised set up, which was a cause of huge issues in our history. This scenario is far more likely than a US presidential based setup with proper checks and balances, and a powerful legislative branch, even if this is achieved I fail to see how it beats a parliamentary system. Why take the risk of regressing and trying to reform legitimate issues by doing an irrelevant overhaul?
 

ghazi52

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China Tul Iran wal Madina Tul Amreeka.

New hybrid system in baking.


1643052152247.png
 

KaiserX

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We’re in a funny place in Pakistan, those who often rekindle the debate about a presidential system are peddling it as an alternative without explaining how it would practically benefit us. Meanwhile, a group from among them are just tired of parliamentary democracy and would love to see a powerful president with dictatorial powers, which is fine for them as long as their own preferred President is in power, but not really a basis for long term stability.

And let’s remember, we’ve had plenty of the latter in our history, governed generals of the 50s were all dictatorial President types, Ayub, Zia, Yahya, Musharraf were all of the same type. We had Presidents like Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismiss elected governments at will.

The other group attacking the current set up are those annoyed with the provincial setup. One of them is rightly annoyed that the 18th amendment wasn’t followed up with further devolution, and certain regions are held captive at the provincial level. This sub group has credibility in my view. Another sub group is annoyed at provinces taking too much revenue and leaving too little for the federal coffers, their gripe is on this and on the NFC award, this group needs to look beyond its own nose for a change and I have wilting respect for their grievances.

IMO, we should keep the parliamentary system, no need for any new failed experiments, keep the 18th amendment but begin devolution to large cities within the provincial set up. Keep the NFC award and let’s put our money where our mouth is on all of this empty rhetoric about “geoeconomics”. Given our history, my biggest gripe is that we are FAR more likely to regress to a less democratic Presidential and heavily centralised set up, which was a cause of huge issues in our history. This scenario is far more likely than a US presidential based setup with proper checks and balances, and a powerful legislative branch, even if this is achieved I fail to see how it beats a parliamentary system. Why take the risk of regressing and trying to reform legitimate issues by doing an irrelevant overhaul?

Care to explain how doing the same thing over and over will lead to different results?

The results of the parliamentary system in pakistan is there for everyone to see, multiple dictatorial PM's (Bhutto & NS), 2 major coups, 2 parliaments dismissed, no PM has been able to complete their term. Our national interest since the last 50 years has been held hostage by a select few very small minorities. Every single aspect of our system of governance today is flawed. Also I might like to add historically Hitler came through power with a minority in the GERMAN PARLIAMENT ;)

This is because our system is literally a copy a paste of India's constitution with a few added "Islamic" elements. Our previous leaders never took the time to think through what form of government suites our culture/nation/way of thinking the best. Had Pakistan even been a theocracy or monarchy I strongly believe we'd be far ahead compared to where we actually are today simply because we would have had a strong unifying element. Our NA assembly has shown that it is a joke far from being a unifying element the nation strongly needs.

There is a reason the top 3 powers today (America, China, Russia) have presidential systems that suites their nation today. The benefits of a strong executive willing to take decision without parliament approval far out weights the costs.

Hypothetical are hypotheticals, but the sad part is I hope our grandkids arent on this forum 50 years from now discussing the same.
 

ziaulislam

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It doesnt matter
Even presdential system will fail
As president who is the biggest choor will be voted in

The problem isnt system its the people who are voting people in
 

Jungibaaz

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Care to explain how doing the same thing over and over will lead to different results?
If that's the line of argument, how is a presidential system any different. I've repeatedly asked for arguments to be presented in favour of a presidential system, but the best we get are very naïve and simplistic arguments.

The results of the parliamentary system in pakistan is there for everyone to see, multiple dictatorial PM's (Bhutto & NS), 2 major coups, 2 parliaments dismissed, no PM has been able to complete their term. Our national interest since the last 50 years has been held hostage by a select few very small minorities. Every single aspect of our system of governance today is flawed. Also I might like to add historically Hitler came through power with a minority in the GERMAN PARLIAMENT ;)

This is because our system is literally a copy a paste of India's constitution with a few added "Islamic" elements. Our previous leaders never took the time to think through what form of government suites our culture/nation/way of thinking the best. Had Pakistan even been a theocracy or monarchy I strongly believe we'd be far ahead compared to where we actually are today simply because we would have had a strong unifying element. Our NA assembly has shown that it is a joke far from being a unifying element the nation strongly needs.

There is a reason the top 3 powers today (America, China, Russia) have presidential systems that suites their nation today. The benefits of a strong executive willing to take decision without parliament approval far out weights the costs.

Hypothetical are hypotheticals, but the sad part is I hope our grandkids arent on this forum 50 years from now discussing the same.
Is it the fault of parliamentary democracy that it is constantly and consistently uprooted? Whether by a dictator, whether by the improper power structure left by a dictator, or by constant meddling in parliamentary, judicial, constitutional and political affairs? If an election is rigged in Pakistan, are those responsible to blame, or is the idea of democracy at fault? Please follow your logic through carefully.

As for your second point about what suits us, please tell me WHY you think a presidential system will work better. Then elaborate by telling my what you'll do about the federal structure and centralisation vs. devolution of power, then also add what role a legislative branch will play. Once you answer these points, we can actually discuss the merits of this proposal, right now it's empty.

As for the three powers argument, the first power is a presidential system with significant decentralisation (which is what I'm in favour of), but the US executive is not all powerful, the executive branch is beholden to the checks and balances, and it can't run a country according to the whims of the President, the legislative branch (Congress) is supremely vital. China and Russia practise forms of limited or no democracy, limited or no political opposition allowed, one party systems and dictatorships, respectively. Neither of these systems suit Pakistan, we were founded as a democracy, people we promised democratic representation, provinces were promised a great degree of rights, and political opposition was meant to be allowed. Every single dictatorship this country has seen eventually had to bow out, and it left the institutions weak. Even so, there are examples of successful and unsuccessful parliamentary democracies, presidential democracies, and dictatorships. Here's a really simple matrix:

Parliamentary democracyPresidential democracyNo democracy
SuccessfulUKUSAChina
Less successfulPakistanLiberiaDR Congo

Even the above is super simplistic, but it's there to give you an idea of how flawed and superficial the three major powers remark being made is.

IMO a presidential system is OK -- but that's it, it's just okay. It's not some magic pill to fix your issues, anyone who tells you that it will fix things is probably trying to take your for a ride. A presidential system when done properly, is democratic and it has checks and balances, and a strong judicial and legislative branch. Please don't confuse these sorts of presidential systems with dictatorships, the legislative structure of the latter matters, but the head of state honestly doesn't matter, the dictator can call himself president, PM, King, President ProMaxx or Ameer-ul-momineen; it doesn't matter. Try digging beyond the rhetoric here and get back to me on these key details if you want to discuss, I actually want to hear pointed arguments about presidential vs. parliamentary systems.
 

gambit

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Presidential system would be best for Pakistan but not the American style because in America the president is not that powerful by law but is powerful because they are considered the leader of their party (democrat/republican).
The US president is unique among presidents of other countries that has presidents. The US president is both 'head of state' and 'head of government'. France has a president as head of state and a prime minister as head of government. The UK has the monarchy as head of state and a prime minister as head of government. The head of state is supposed to be apolitical and the head of government is where political biases are evident in national policies. This is where the American president is unique in that the holder must balance party allegiances and national needs.

In many ways this can only work if there is a 2 party system as there is in america.

Pakistan can never have a 2 party system. The subcontinent is utterly diverse in ethnicity/religion/thought that it would be next to impossible to implement a single party/2 party system anywhere in the subcontinent.
Look up 'first past the post' (FPTP) electoral system. There are many literature about FPTP but to sum it up, FPTP tends to stabilize out to two dominant parties. There is nothing in FPTP that says there can be only two parties. In the US, the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) is a legal entity. It is just that its ideological foundation is unpalatable to most Americans so it is never prominent in national politics. But there are no laws that prevents anyone from joining the CPUSA. So the operative word is 'tends', as in FPTP prefers two dominant parties. Is it possible to have a three-way electoral cycle? Absolutely. All the CPUSA has to do is poach members from the other parties. But over time, as in several election cycles, national politics would end up with CPUSA-Republican or CPUSA-Democrat, or two dominant parties again.

You cannot 'implement' a two-party system, as in explicit by law that says 'only two parties allowed' because at the end of one election cycle, you will have to specify which two parties to anticipate the next election. And so on and on. This would be a true electoral nightmare. You can specify exactly which two parties in perpetuity but that would be a betrayal of basic democratic principles in the first place. So in the end, if you chose the 'winner take all' (FPTP) approach, you will over time TRENDS towards two dominant parties.

Thus Pakistans presidential system will have to be tailored to be truly unique to our needs and culture.
That is true. Americans do not believe that US-style national politics works for every people. But we do believe that basic democratic principles and diffusion of responsibilities and power are the best, not guaranteed, way for governance. People often criticize US-style politics as clunky and inefficient, especially when there is a national emergency or some good ideas are evidently beneficial to the country. To which there is this response: Political power is like electricity, explosions, and water under pressure: Always seek the path of least resistance.

It means in execution: A government that is swift to do good WILL also be swift to do evil.

What is 'good' and 'evil' are debatable, but the point is that political figures and institutions will always do their best to exercise whatever institutional powers granted by law and/or traditions. Pakistan may not chose to clone US-style democracy, but if you are willing to adopt some US-style principles and practices, be prepared to deal with frustrations and the inevitable calls to return to the old ways.
 

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