Grand National (Intellectual) Dialogue (For Reform) in Pakistan, Day-5, 29-12-2020

December 31, 2020

Moderator: Dr Nadeem ul Haq (VC. PIDE)

Zarar Khuhro (Senior Journalist and Hots of Zara Hut Kay)
Amer Zafar Durrani (President, Reenergia)
Zaigham Khan (Executive Director, Civic Action Resources)
Omar Quraishi (Journalist and CEO, Positive Media Communications)
Usman Raza Jolaha (Founder/President, Volunteer Force Pakistan)


There is talk of a Grand National Dialog in Pakistan. In the past, such initiatives have led to APCs that have mainly tried to strengthen political cartels. Reform for changing the way we do business of politics and policy is conveniently never in the agenda.

We at PIDE are proposing a Grand National (intellectual) dialog on reform to parallel and possibly lead the possible GND with ideas.

PIDE questions to our intellectuals will be:

1. Is democracy working as it should?
2. Can the system be improved through reform? What would you suggest!
3. Can the clash of institutions be avoided through reform?
4.Parliament virtually becomes irrelevant after elections! Attendance rates are low and legislative efforts very limited. Debates on bills infrequent. Even the budget is not debated adequately. Competence of parliamentarians to take on complex legislative issues too remains in question.
5. Democrats don’t want local government. Can the constitution be democratic w/o local government? MNAs, MPAs are running after development funds and involved in local admin.
6.The executive thrives in extreme centralization. All regulatory agencies PSEs universities are not granted autonomy.
7.Judiciary often wants to play the role of the executive while commercial and other disputes wait for decades to be sorted out. Precedents clearly are not adhered to and the speed of justice is very slow.
8. 1 election every 5 years enables a government to establish absolute rule leaving opposition and others frantic for a role.
9. Dynastic politics or the control of the constituencies by families has almost developed “rotten boroughs”. What sort of electoral reform can bring in more electoral competition?

There are many issues for intellectuals to take up. Theses should be written on these issues to light our way to a better system.

The usual binaries— civil military and presidential vs parliamentary- prevent the focus from being placed on improving our current system. We would like to spotlight the failings of our current system that derives from colonialism. Can we reform it?


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