Is parliamentary democracy suitable for Pakistan? It’s surprising that despite having so many elections, we still cannot find a system which will serve the interests of the country. The problem is that the prime minister can be elected by a simple majority of corrupt members of the national assembly. In a house of about 350 members, only a hundred and seventy six people can elect the prime minister. Even if the prime minister’s party does not enjoy a simple majority, many members can be bought and vote against the interests of their party.

In the current parliament, some members of the People’s Party defected and allied themselves with the ruling party, of whom Faisal Sualeh Hayat and Aftab Sherpao are prime examples. The first time we had genuinely free and fair elections was in 1970, in which the Awami League (despite polling only 38 percent of the popular votes) won all but two seats in the provincial East Pakistan assembly. And logically, Mujibur Rahman, whose party enjoyed a simple majority in the National Assembly, would have been the prime minister of Pakistan if the army and certain politicians hadn’t objected. The result was, as is well know, the breakup of the country and the emergence of Bangladesh on the world map.

Clearly, the Westminster model does not suit the temperament of our people. Another model should be considered. Why not have the president elected by a popular vote (as is the practice in the USA and France), while the parliament elect the prime minister (as is the norm now?). This will automatically make the president as powerful as the prime minister and a system of checks and balances to evolve. The ruling party will no longer be able to loot the country, as has been the practice until today. Moreover, we urgently need to divide the country into at least ten provinces for more devolution of power. The national assembly should have at least six hundred members, which will make horse trading very difficult. Perhaps these ideas may seem revolutionary, but we have to begin if things are to improve, so why not now?