Vast challenges lie ahead for Pakistan. With the threat of terrorism, an unstable economy and power outages, it surprises no one that our leaders have ambitious plans to resolve these issues. The President, Prime Minister (also known as “The Magic Man” for his ability to get things done) and the entire legislative branch have the experts, intelligence, and motivation to accomplish much for Pakistan.
But above all, we now have a chance. The country has reached a consensus that all must be done, all progress realized, under the mantle of democracy. The constitutional reforms have taken Pakistan to a much more democratic level. The 18th Amendment has moved powers from the President to the Prime Minister and Parliament. Further, our Presidents can no longer adjourn Parliament as he deems fit. The Amendment has transferred certain authority away from the federal government and to the provinces, allowing the people easier access to the people responsible for their daily way of life. Provincial governments are not exclusively in charge of a wide array of issues – societal needs, criminal law among them.
We have restored the 1973 Constitution, and while it has not perfected the system (and what country’s political system is perfect at all?) it has allowed democracy to jump leaps ahead of where we were prior to the restoration.
Let us analyze the fact that we have a President willing to curb his own powers. The executive’s powers increased exponentially under Nawaz Sharif and Gen. Musharraf. After all, the latter felt it was his right to throw out the entire judicial system at his discretion! Whether one approves of him or harbors old resentment still, it cannot be denied that by signing the 18th Amendment the President of Pakistan has done what no leader in recent history has been capable of – handing over his powers for the sake of democracy.
Passing the reforms was not a walk in the park, by any stretch of the imagination. There was at times open hostility, barbs traded back and forth, from all sides. This dissent is a matter of public record. However, it is in the overall interest of a functioning democracy to have a vibrant debate before reaching consensus…and consensus was reached!
Looking at the end result, we can see that the push for reform came from all parties. That is the united attitude we need to continue in Pakistan.
We can also be proud of our newly free and (sometimes too) dynamic media. We are a country not afraid to voice our opinions and we are not living under a government too afraid to hear them.
Let us remember that this is Pakistan’s third attempt at democracy since its inception. Let us also remember that democracy is its own teacher, it learns and adapts with experience. We must now implement the reforms and solve the people’s day-to-day problems with the lessons we have already learned.
If the people do not like the direction the nation is headed in, they can voice their opinions via the ballot box. There will no longer be military dictatorships that turn the clock back on civil rights and equality. Politics has entered a new era, and the people now, at long last, have the power.