Monday, August 02, 2010 4:22:58 PM



Muhammad Mohsin Iqbal
June 12, 2009
Traditionally and persistently, typology of governmental form has been argued to rest on the location of real power. In the fifth century B.C. classified all governments as monarchies, aristocracies or democracies. “Every political system operates”, says Austin Ranney, “in an environment, and certain characteristics of its particular environment contribute materially towards determining both its form of government and its policy outputs” . This observation bears truth as the different countries have adopted different forms of the government. In some countries one form of government is functioning well, whereas in others not. The suitability of the one form of the government or the other depends upon different factors like population, economy, social structure, social tensions and consensus and political culture etc.

Broadly speaking the government may be categorized either as democracy, obligarchy, dictatorship, pluralism or eliticism. It is notable that democracy is preferred over other forms of government as in it decisions are ultimately controlled by all the adult members of the society rather then by some specially privileged subgroup or one all powerful member. In forcible terminology of Abraham Lincoln, “democracy is a government of the people, for the people and by the people,” or what Daniel Webster argued, “the peoples´ government made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people”. But there is no definite mode of democratic operation; nor the examples of ancient regimes or unclassified systems are lacking.

Parliamentary System of the Government
Parliamentarism is the most widely adopted system of government, and it seems appropriate to refer to British Parliamentary experience in particular because it is the British system which has provided an example for a great many other countries.Great Britain is regarded as mother country of the parliamentary executive. A parliamentary system, or parliamentarism,is distinguished by the head of government being dependent on the direct or indirect support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. Hence, there is no clear cut separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of government. Parliamentary systems usually have a clear differentiation between the head of government and the head of state.

The term parliamentary system does not mean that a country is ruled by different parties in coalition with each other. Such multi-party arrangements are usually the product of a voting system known as proportional representation. The executive is typically a cabinet, and headed by a prime minister who is considered the head of government. The prime minister and the ministers of the cabinet typically have their background in the parliament and may remain members therof while serving in cabinet. The leader of the leading party, or group of parties, in the parliament is often appointed as the prime minister.

In many countries, the cabinet, or single member therof, can be removed by the parliament through the vote of confidence. In addition, the executive often can dissolve the parliament and call extra ordinary elections. The parliamentary executive is most effective when supported by a stable majority, which is most likely to be found in countries having a strong two party system. Many countries that have instituted the cabinet system have been hampered in their operation by their multiparty systems, which have created indecisive and unstable cabinets.

Many countries have chosen the parliamentary system in preference to the presidential system, which they feared might become dictatorial; yet their failure to operate the cabinet system effectively has in many instances led, precisely to dictatorship. In most parliamentary systems, the head of state is primarily a ceremonial position, often a monarch or president, retaining duties that aren´t politically divisive, such as appointment of civil service.

In many parliamentary systems, the head if state may have reserve power which is usable in a crisis. In most cases however, such powers are (either by convention or by constitutional rule) only exercised upon the advice and approval of the head the government. The secret of the successful functioning of parliamentary democracy is a developed party system. “The purpose of the party in parliament, “says W. Ivor Jenings, “is to support the government in carrying out the party policy; or, if the party in opposition, criticize the government in so far as its fail to carry out the policy of the party in opposition .

The parliament is attempting to ensure ever-increasing levels of accountability of the government, through an elaborate committee system. It already has to its credit creation of a regime of laws to provide equity and social justice to the people. The Parliament, and under its lead, the state legislatures have passed legislation to secure for the citizens_ men and women equally adequate means of livelihood; equal pay for equal work; protection against abuse and exploitation of workers´ economic necessity; and the protection of their health and strength as also of children of tender age and youth, against exploitation and moral and material abandonment. A parliamentary government, through directly responsible to the assembly, is not indirectly responsible to the electorate. The government as a whole is not directly elected by the voters but is appointed indirectly amongst the representatives whom they elect to the assembly.

Presidential System
The term ´Presidential´ is chosen to indicate a system wherein the offices of the head of the government and head of state are combined in a single man__ the President. The entire executive power is vested in the President and all government action is his responsibility. The presidential system provides for a Chief Executive who is elected for a definite term of office, who holds a wide public mandate as a result of his election, and who is largely independent of the legislative branch for the conduct of his administration. His formal powers are defined in a documentary constitution. Because he is both Chief of State and political leader of the government, his prestige and authority are doubly enhanced.

“He is assisted by a Cabinet, an informal group without legal sanction. Its personnel are determined by the President and exercise such powers as he chooses to vest in it. It may be dissolved when the President wishes” . The President, unlike Parliamentary government, is not responsible to the Parliament, but to the Constitution. It is the Assembly which holds the President ultimately responsible to the Constitution by impeachment process. Though President may not be dependent on Assembly for his political survival, but he is dependent on its good will, for the furtherance of his policies .


The first distinction to be made is that, in parliamentary governments, the head of the government__for whom there are various different official titles such as prime minister, premier, chancellor and his or her cabinet are dependent upon the confidence of the legislature and can be dismissed from the office by a legislative vote of ´no confidence´ or censure.

In presidential forms of government, President is elected for a fixed, constitutionally prescribed term and in normal circumstances cannot be forced to resign by the legislature.

Prime Minister is elected by the legislature.

President is popularly elected, either directly or via an electoral college.

Parliamentary systems have collective or collegial executives.

Presidential systems have one person, non collegial executives.

The prime minister´s position in the cabinet can vary from pre-eminence to

virtual equality with the other ministers, but there is always a relatively

high degree of collegiality in decision making.

The members of presidential cabinets are mere advisers and subordinates of the president.

In parliamentary systems, political parties enjoy strong position.

Political parties have less of a role (no party discipline) in presidential system.

In general, the majority of the world´s “established” democracies use parliamentary systems. Parliamentary system has proved most successful in countries having developed two-party system .Parliamentary system of the government has placed more and more emphasis on the power of Parliament. The main emphasis is on the centre of the power. Parliament becomes the main focus and the institution Prime Minister has been getting more and more importance. Cabinets in Parliamentary System are usually drawn from members of the elected legislature; parliamentary government enables the inclusion of all political elements represented in the legislature including minorities in the executive. Cabinet comprising a coalition of several different parties are a typical feature of many well-established parliamentary democracies. In most government the parliamentary system can change on the floor of the legislature without resource to a general election, advocates of Parliamentarism point to its flexibility and capacity to adopt to changing circumstances as a strong benefit

By making the executive dependent, at least in theory upon the confidence of the legislature parliamentary system are said to foster greater accountability on the part of the government of the day towards the people´s representative. Proponent argues that this means that there is not only greater public control over the policy-making process, but also greater transparency in the way decisions are made.

In presidential government, executive stability is based on the president´s fixed term of office. It contrasts with the executive instability that may result in a parliamentary system from the frequent use of the legislature´s power to upset cabinets by vote of ´no confidence´ or, without any formal ´no confidence´ motion being adopted, as a result of the cabinet´s loss of majority support in the legislature.

The office of the president can be held directly accountable for decision taken because, in contrast to the parliamentary system, the chief executive is directly chosen by popular vote. It is thus easier for the electorate to reward or retrospectively punish a president (by voting him or her out of office) than is the case with parliamentary system.

In formation of his cabinet, the choice would not be limited to the members of Parliament. He may choose persons of outstanding competence and intellectual integrity help him in administration of the country. The country may have benefit of the persons of integrity who may not be interested in election due to its curruptionist nature.

The Presidential system also offers the cabinet ministers to devote their full time and full energy in the service of the nation, instead of wasting their time and energy in endless politicking. Presidential system will cure the cancer of defection which ha snow become the property of legislators. The expertise of defection and desertions on the part of the legislators motivated by thurst for power and hunger for office, will disappeared some sort of cleaning in political life would be obvious as a result.

Parliamentary systems are inherently less accountable than Presidential once, as responsibility for decision is taken by the collective cabinet rather than a single figure. This is especially problematic when diver coalition from the executive, as it becomes increasingly difficult for electors to establish who is –responsible for a particular decision and make a retrospective judgment as to the performance of the government.

Some parliamentary systems are typified by shifting coalition of different forces, rather than disciplined parties. Under such circumstances, governments are often weak and unstable, leading to a lack of continuity and direction in public policy.

Many parliamentary governments, particularly in new democracy, are not comprised of inclusive multi party coalition but rather by discipline single parties. In divided societies, such parties can represent predominately or exclusively are ethnic group. When placed in a parliamentary system, a 51% majority of the seats in such cases can result in 100% of the political power, as there is few or no ameliorating device to restrain the power of the executive- hence the term “elective dictatorship” associated with some cases of single party parliamentary rule.

Moreover, and in direct contrast to the separation of powers that occurs under Presidentialism. Many parliaments in practice provide a very weak legislative check on government because of the degree of party discipline-which means that a slim parliamentary majority can win every vote on every issue in the parliament. In such cases, parliamentary government can lead to almost complete winner-take-all result.

In presidential system no real checks on the executive become more true when there is a direct concordance between President´s party and the majority in the Parliament. In this case the parliament has almost no real check on the executive and can become more of glorified debating chamber then a legitimate horse of review.

One of the most common criticism of presidentialism is, it difficulties in sustaining democratic practices. With the outstanding exception the United States, Presidentialism has stepped into authoritarianism at least once in every nation where it ha s been attempted. These failures are due

to political cultures unconvinced to democracy, the parliament role of the military, but also to the design flows of Presidentialism itself.

By winning the Presidency is a winner –lake all, zero-sum prize. Unlike a Prime Minister, who is likely to have to form coalition, a President´s party can rule without are allies for four to six years, a worrisome situation for many interest group. The danger that zero-sum Presidential system pose is composed by the rigidity of the President´s fixed term in office winners and losers are sharply defined for the entire period of the Presidential of the mandate. Losers must wait four or five years without any access to execute power and patronage. The zero sum came in Presidential regimes raises the stakes of Presidential elections and inevitably exacerbates their attendant tension and polarization.

The Muslims of India had, since the middle of the nineteenth century, begun the struggle for a separate homeland on the basis of the Two Nations Theory. Keeping in view the situation, the British, who ruled India at that time, were left with no option but to eventually accept the demand of the Muslims of India. On 3rd June 1947, Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, called a conference of all the leaders of the Sub-continent and communicated to them His Majesty´s Government´s Plan for the transfer of power The State of Pakistan was created under the Independence Act of 1947. The Act made the existing Constituent Assemblies the Dominion Legislatures. These assemblies were to exercise all the powers which were formerly exercised by the Central Legislature in addition to the powers regarding the framing of a new Constitution. Until then all the territories were to be governed in accordance with the Government of India Act, 1935.The first session of the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was held on 10th August1947 at Sindh Assembly Building in Karachi. On 11th August 1947, Quaid-I-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was unanimously elected as the President of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. On 14th August 1947, the Transfer of Power took place. Lord Mountbatten, Governor General of India, addressed the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. The Quaid gave a reply to the address in the House, on which the Principles of the State of Pakistan are laid. On 15th August 1947, Quaid-e-Azam was sworn in as the first Governor General of Pakistan. Mian Sir Abdur Rashid, Chief Justice of Pakistan, administered the oath of office to him. The Quaid remained in this position till his death i.e. 11th September, 1948.

On 7th March 1949, the Objectives Resolution, which now serves as the grund norm of Pakistan, was introduced by the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan. It was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 12th March 1949. On the same day, a Basic Principles Committee comprising 24 Members was formed to prepare a draft Constitution on the basis of the Objectives Resolution. On 16th October 1951, the Prime Minister Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, mover of the Objectives Resolution, was assassinated and Khawaja Nazimuddin took over as the Prime Minister on 17th October 1951.

The final draft of the Constitution was prepared in 1954. By that time, Muhammad Ali Bogra had taken over as the Prime Minister. However, just before the draft could be placed in the House for approval, the Assembly was dissolved by the then Governor General Ghulam Muhammad on 24th October 1954. The Prime Minister was, however, not dismissed and was asked to run the administration, with a reconstituted cabinet, until such time as elections were held. Maulvi Tamizuddin, President of the Assembly, challenged the dissolution in the Sindh Chief Court, and won the case. The Government in turn went to the Federal Court, where a judgment was given by the then Chief Justice Muhammad Munir, according to which Maulvi Tamizuddin lost the case. The second Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was created on 28th May 1955 under Governor General´s Order No.12 of 1955. The Electoral College for this Assembly were the Provincial Assemblies of the respective Provinces It first gave legal cover to all the laws passed by the first Constituent Assembly and declared by the court as null and void. Then it passed the Act of One Unit merging all the provinces of West Pakistan into one Unit, with the aim to create parity between the two wings (East and West Pakistan). The major achievement of this Assembly was that it gave the first Constitution to the nation i.e. the Constitution of Pakistan, 1956. Choudhary Muhammad Ali was the Prime Minister at that time. This Constitution was enforced with effect from 23rd March, 1956. Under this Constitution, Pakistan became an Islamic Republic On 5th March 1956; Major General Sikandar Mirza became the first elected President of Pakistan. The 1956 Constitution provided for Parliamentary form of government with all the executive powers in the hands of the Prime Minister. The President was the head of the State and was to be elected by all members of the National and Provincial Assemblies. He was to hold office for 5 years. The President was to act on the advice of the Prime Minister, except where he was empowered to act in his discretion, which was limited to a few cases.

Under the 1956 Constitution, the Parliament was unicameral. Legislative powers vested in the Parliament, which consisted of the President and the National Assembly However, in the absence of any law to control the Political Parties and the problem of floor crossing, political instability perpetually ensued. Although the first general elections were scheduled for early 1959, President Sikandar Mirza abrogated the Constitution, dissolved the National and Provincial Assemblies and declared Martial Law on 7th October 1958. He appointed General Muhammad Ayub Khan, Commander-in- Chief of the Army, as the Chief Martial Law Administrator. On 27th October 1958, General Muhammad Ayub Khan took-over as the second President of Pakistan. One of the major steps taken by him was the appointment of a Constitution Commission on 17th February 1960 under Muhammad Shahabuddin. The objective of this Commission was to submit proposals as to how best democracy can be strengthened and molded according to the country´s socio-political environment and Islamic principles of justice. The Commission submitted its report to the Government on 29th April 1961. On the basis of this report, a new Constitution was framed and given to the nation on 1st March, 1962. Elections under the new Constitution were held on 28th March 1962 and elections to the special seats reserved for women were held on 29th March 1962. The first session of the third National Assembly was held on 8th June 1962 at Ayub Hall, Rawalpindi. The 1962 Constitution envisaged a Federal State with Presidential form of government, with National Assembly at the center and the Provincial Assemblies in the Provinces. The Legislatures, both at the center and in the provinces, were unicameral. The Federal system had been curtailed by allowing the Provincial Governors to be appointed directly by the President. All executive authority of the Republic of Pakistan, under the Constitution, vested in the office of the President. He appointed his Cabinet members who were directly responsible to him. The electoral system was made indirect, and ´Basic Democrats´, were declared as the Electoral College for the purpose of electing the assemblies and the President. The term of this Assembly was three years. The norm was established that if the President was from West Pakistan, the Speaker was to be from East Pakistan and vice versa. One of the major achievements of this Assembly was passage of the Political Parities Act, 1962. On 25th March 1969, the second Martial law was imposed and General Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan took over as the President of Pakistan and Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA). He later issued a Legal Framework Order, under which the first ever general elections were held on 7th December 1970. This was the first Assembly elected on adult franchise and population basis. This Assembly could not meet due to grave political differences. Subsequently, the Province of East Pakistan seceded from West Pakistan and became Bangladesh. On 20th December 1971, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto took over as the President of Pakistan as well as the first civilian Martial Law Administrator. The first session of the National Assembly, due to the delay caused by the separation of East Pakistan, was held on 14th April 1972 at the State Bank Building, Islamabad, in which all the 144 Members from West Pakistan and two from former East Pakistan (Mr.Noor-ul-Amin and Raja Tridev Roy who had chosen to join Pakistan) participated. On17th April 1972, an Interim Constitution was adopted by the National Assembly which provided for a Presidential form of Government. Under this Constitution, the National Assembly was not to be dissolved earlier than 14th August 1973. The Interim Constitution dealt in detail with the distribution of powers between the Centre and the Provinces. The Assembly also formed a Constitution Committee on 17th April 1972 to prepare the first draft for framing a Constitution. The report of the Committee was presented with a draft Constitution on 31st December 1972. It was unanimously passed by the Assembly in its session on 10th April, 1973 and was authenticated by the President on 12th April 1973. This Constitution, called the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973, came into force on 14th August, 1973. On the same day, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto took oath as the Prime Minister while Mr. Fazal Illahi Choudhary took oath as the President of Pakistan. The 1973 Constitution provided for a Parliamentary form of Government where the executive authority of the State vested in the Prime Minister. The President, according to the Constitution, was at the apex, representing the unity of the Republic.

Under the 1973 Constitution, Pakistan adopted the bicameral system at the center, called “The Parliament”, comprising the President, the National Assembly and the Senate. Under the 1973 Constitution, the National Assembly is elected for a five years term, unless sooner dissolved. The seats in National Assembly, unlike the Senate, are allocated to each province and other units of the Federation on the basis of population. Despite the tenure of the Assembly being five years, as prescribed in the Constitution, Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, on 7th January 1977 announced the holding of elections before time. Consequently, on 10th January 1977, he advised the President to dissolve the National Assembly. Elections were held on 7th March 1977. The Opposition charged the government with rigging the elections to the National Assembly and thereafter boycotted the Provincial Assemblies elections. Since the Opposition had not accepted the National Assembly elections result, they did not take oath. This resulted in a political crisis and Martial Law was imposed by the then Army Chief, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, on 5th July, 1977. On 24th December 1981, under a Presidential Order, a Federal Council (Majlis-e-Shoora) was constituted. They were nominated by the President. The first session of this Council was held on 11th January 1982. In this way, limited and controlled political activities were resumed, as a result of which general elections were later held for the National and Provincial Assemblies on 25th February 1985, on non-party basis. On 2nd March 1985, the revival of Constitution Order was issued through which a large number of amendments were made in the Constitution. The first session of the National Assembly was held on 20th March 1985. Mr. Muhammad Khan Junejo was nominated as the Prime Minister of Pakistan by the President (General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. In November 1985, the 8th Constitutional Amendment was adopted by the Parliament.

Besides changes in other Articles of the Constitution, Article 58(2)(b) was added, according to which the President acquired discretionary powers to dissolve the National Assembly. In the end of 1987, Gen. Zia dismissed the Junejo´s Government. Then Gen. Zia announced the general election on 16 October 1988 but unfortunately he lost his life in C-130 “Accident” near Bahawalpur. Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Chairman Senate at that time took charge as President and general election was held on above mentioned time on party basis. Benazir Bhutto was elected as Prime Minister. Under the shadow of 58(2)(b), G. I. Khan removed the elected government. This history has also repeated again with Benazir in1996 as well as with Nawaz Sharif in 1993 and 1999.The Article 58(2) (b) was later on omitted form the Constitution through the 13th Amendment. The Amendment became an Act after receiving the assent of the President on 3rd April 1997. Chief of Army Staff General Pervaz Musharraf took over the Government from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and became the Chief Executive through a Proclamation of Emergency, on 12th October 1999. Through the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) issued on October 14th, 1999, he held the Constitution in abeyance, suspended the Senate, National and Provincial Assemblies, Chairman and Deputy Chairman Senate, Speaker and Deputy Speaker and Provincial Assemblies and dismissed the Federal and Provincial Governments. The President, Mr. Muhammad Rafiq Tarar, was, however, allowed to continue in his office. The Suspension Orders were challenged in the Supreme Court. The Court in its judgment on 12th May 2000 validated the military take-over and gave three years time to the government, starting from 12th October 1999, to complete its agenda and then hand over power to the elected government. The Court also allowed the military government to bring necessary Constitutional Amendments, provided that those should not change the basic feature of Federal Parliamentary democracy, independence of judiciary and Islamic provisions of the Constitution. On 20th June 2001, through a notification (C.E. Order No.1), the Chief Executive assumed the office of the President of Pakistan under President´s Succession Order, 2001.

On the same day, through another Order (C. E. Order No.2, 2001), the President converted the orders of suspension of the legislative bodies and their presiding officers, into dissolution, Constitutional/political reforms were also undertaken.

The political situation of Pakistan emerges as one of chronic instability as is so often described by scholars and analysts but an altogether meaning to such phenomenon as mass movement, government breakdowns and military coups.

Success of any form of government depends on the existence of political culture in the country. While, democracy which is an evolutionary process, get mature due to political culture and rule of law. Pakistan have passed through parliamentary form of government under 1956 & 1973 Constitutions, experienced presidential form of government under 1962 Constitution but none of these systems worked here. We lost East Pakistan in 1971, and remained in military dictatorship for almost thirty years. Our democracy is always a gap between three martial laws. It is not the political system which failed but in reality, the prevailing political conditions may be considered as a major reason beyond the failure of any system. America and Britain have Presidential and Parliamentary form of government respectively, but both are regarded one of the best democratic governments in the world. In both the countries every government finish its tenure, while in Pakistan, no single government so far able to complete its tenure except Ch. Shujat Hussain´s regime. The question we deal is not the accuracy of political system but in reality, the availability of such a political condition in the country where there is respect for rule of law, and above all respect for all institutions. The evolutionary process of the democracy does not stuck by martial law again and again.

A system can not ensure that whether it will work successfully or not. What we need in Pakistan not a titanic type of system? But we need such a government where political culture nourish rule of law prevail and every man enjoy his rights. In a country like Pakistan, where democracy is in transition. We need such a system which ensures greater freedom of the people.Parliament mainly consists on the representatives of the people and they are supposed to safeguard their interest and redress their grievances.

Accountability & transparent decision or law making process is possible only in Parliamentary form of government. While in presidential form of government, president and executive titled towards authoritarianism jut because in the absence of proper check and balance mechanism. Because President on one hand is accountable neither to the Parliament not to the Cabinet, and executive on the either is not accountable to the Parliament.

People of Pakistan were kept suppressed under military dictatorship for more than three decades which result in complete ignorance from democracy. Pakistan is a developing country and therefore strong Parliamentary system is necessary. We cannot afford Presidential form of government because; it´s difficult in sustaining democratic practices. Being a developing nation we have thirst for Parliament System because it is more democratic than Presidential System. Parliamentary System should be free of military intervention.

A dilemma faced by Pakistani political system like other third world countries, that it suffers from the cult of personality. We respect the man (with a rod in hand) instead of institution. In such a situation, efforts should be made to strengthen the institutions. It would be advisable for Pakistan political system that institution should be strengthen instead of searching for a proper form of government, that suit the all time shaking political conditions of the country. The government has already taken a few steps in the right direction by announcing certain electoral reforms which include preparation of new electoral lists; issuance of new identity cards based on physical verification; reduction of the age of the voter from 21 to 18; and empowering of the Election commission and making it independent in its working.

For good governance Pakistan need strong Parliamentary System with independent Institutions. Judiciary should not be influenced by any other institution. In the end the best and workable governmental system for Pakistan is parliamentary form of government just because of its democratic values. And all the institution must be kept subordinate and accountable to the parliament. Only supremacy of parliament can ensure valuable democratic values and suitability. The future of democracy in Pakistan largely depends upon the efficacy and implementation of these reforms.