Tuesday September 06, 2016
Pakistan Must Reform Its Political Parties
On August 4 President Zardari called PPP stalwarts’ meeting at President House to provide an opportunity to Bilawal Zardari to sharpen his speaking skills.
During his speech, Bilawal Zardari repeated many 40 years old PPP slogans including “Tum Kitnay Bhutto Maro Gay Har Ghar Say Bhutto Niklay Ga.” During his brief written speech he tried to copy the styles of his mother Benazir Bhutto and his grandfather Z. A. Bhutto.
Many minions of PPP present in the meeting applauded him for showing the traits of Benazir Bhutto and Z. A. Bhutto in his speech. President Zardari proudly gazed at his son and looked relieved that he had the heir who will continue controlling PPP.
We have recounted this scene, because it raises many questions about the future of democracy, about political structure and about the nature of future political system of Pakistan. It also raises questions about the nature of political philosophy that is seeping in our collective consciousness through these young political birds who are learning to fly.
“Kitnay Bhutto Maro Gay Har Ghar Say Bhutto Niklay Ga.” Is it the political philosophy or political ideology we want to maintain in Pakistan? Please give Pakistan a break. Pakistan needs to move beyond this nonsense of “Kitnay Bhutto Maro Gay Har Ghar Say Bhutto Niklay Ga.” This is a sick political culture. Master Bilawal Zardari should save his blood and head. Pakistan does not need anyone’s blood or head any longer. This sick political logic must end.
Coming back to the other questions about the future of democracy, about the nature of future political system of Pakistan, we have to make sure we move beyond political parties that run as family properties. We should get rid of those toady politicians who perpetuate family controls on political parties. They are the ugly creatures of Pakistani politics. Pakistan must get rid of them as soon as possible.
Due to these ugly creatures of Pakistani politics, right now, almost all political parties are being run like family properties. Can there be a bigger tragedy in the life of a nation that the leadership of its largest political party is transferred through a will by deceased party chairperson?
With this kind of political culture, is there any hope that these parties will reform voluntarily? There is a remote possibility that the leaders of political parties will act on their own and turn their parties into true political parties? Bilawal Zardari’s example is enough to predict the hereditary nature of future of political parties.
If we know that party leaders are not going to allow their parties to become true political parties, then we need to think what steps we need to take to transform political parties into true political parties?
We suggest the Election Commission of Pakistan should chalk out a short and long term program to democratize political parties.
For example, Election Commission should make inner party elections a rudimentary condition for parties to participate in election. Either Election Commission should conduct these inner party elections by itself or appoint an independent body to be responsible to conduct these elections and issue certificate of free, fair, and transparent inner party election before political parties are allowed to participate in the national elections.
It is Parliament’s foremost responsibility to make laws which discourage hereditary politics in the country. No life long supreme leaders please. Such leaderships create environment for hereditary political leadership. It is a menace, if not controlled at this level when democracy is ready to take off in the country it will darken the future of our next generations and the country.
If parliament and Election Commission do not move in this direction, in the larger interest of the country, Supreme Court should define parameters for political parties which make them democratic political party in the true sense of the word.
If we want to make Pakistan a true democracy, we should know it cannot become a true democracy without true democratic parties. There can be no true democratic political parties without true inner party democratic procedures and practices.
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