The Nation, Lahore

16 Ramzan, 1418 - Thursday, Januuary 15, 1998, Lahore



Appointing a new President

Dr Rana Jawad Asghar

The new President of Pakistan was away from his home when the Prime Minister of Pakistan tried to make a contact with him. All the people in the Prime Minister's secretariat tried to locate him and finally he was able to talk to the Prime Minister who told him to come to Islamabad on the very next flight. Senior Protocol officers were there to arrange his quick transport to the airport for his flight to Islamabad. He met the Prime Minister and he told him that he had decided to make him the President of Pakistan. Naturally, like anyone else who was not even being remotely considered for the post, he asked the Prime Minister to repeat what he had said. Prime Minister again asked him to accept the nomination of the Muslim League as the President of Pakistan. Justice Rafiq Tarar then accepted the responsibility with honour and thanked the Prime Minister for the trust he had shown in his capabilities. When the Prime Minister disclosed this news in his cabinet meeting, everyone was surprised. No one knew about this decision. No one was even aware that his name was being considered. But as it happens here quite often, the cabinet quickly supported the Prime Minister's choice.

This was the NEWS carried by all the newspapers. After reading this very news in my newspaper, I checked the date of the paper and it was 17th December 1997. Even if you are weak in mathematics, it may not be difficult for you to calculate that within three more years, the world will enter in the next millennium. Pakistan is celebrating the 50th anniversary. Pakistan at present is being ruled by a Prime Minister who is trying to enter the next century with a strong and industrialised Pakistan - a Pakistan which is not a beggar of the world but as a respectable nation.

But how he could achieve this goal? Is this only achievable by giving total control of a country to one single person - himself? Even with all the good opinion I have for Nawaz Sharif, I still cant subscribe to a one man rule. History supports check and balances. History shows that only those rulers survived who had advisors who could tell them straight whenever they are wrong. A king needs to know if he is naked before he goes out in the public. And a ruler without wise and courageous advisers is someone who is without clothes but thinks he is wearing nice robes.

Furthermore, all the news reports also mention that this decision was a personal decision of the Prime Minister alone. For God's sake, he was not going to appoint a manager of one of his mills. Advanced nations around the world discuss such decisions for months in public, in their respective political parties and then eventually, within the cabinets. The reason for all this exercise is to appoint someone who is best capable and has a clean record. Even the countries whom we always bash for various reasons, when they want to choose their officials they make sure that they have a clean record. Even an innocent mistake in the far past makes you unqualified for the job. One of President Clinton's nominees had to withdraw her nomination because she hired some illegal alien as a domestic servant many years ago. This only happens when you give enough time for discussion and consultation.

I know, we are still on the first step of democracy but we can't move the ladder of economic progress without making progress in our democratic values. There was a time when some countries with authoritarian regimes made progress without democratic reforms. But time has changed now. They were protected by the rivalry of cold war. They got incentives and support from the West due to specific reasons. But the recent economic crash of the Asia also shows that you need basic democratic reforms at gross root levels to sustain long-term economic stability. And these reforms are - an independent judiciary a competent executive, a real representative parliament and a vigilant press. If you take any one of these out, then with economic progress comes inefficiency and corruption which eventually not openly stalls the progress but brings the downfall with a bang.

Times have changed and nations around the world are becoming democratic. Even the countries still ruled by one party or personal dictatorships are loosening their grips to address their people grievances. They are not doing this because somehow now they are more sympathetic to their people but they have realised that humans as a species are going under most rapid evolution of all times. Human brain is gaining new knowledge at such a speed that has no precedent in the whole history of mankind. Some scientists believe that humans are acquiring knowledge at such a speed that their achievement in one year now are more than of a century or even more previously. It is becoming more and more difficult to rule this species by a single person, a single family or a single party. Humans today want to be partners in important decisions of their nations and countries. They are citizens of their respective countries now and are 'subjects' no more.


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