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British High Commissioner to Pakistan Adam Thomson. — Photo by Dawn

ISLAMABAD: British High Commissioner Adam Thomson said on Thursday Pakistan needed a radical change due to the political leadership’s failure to deliver, but cautioned against any unconstitutional move, including a prolonged caretaker government.

The British envoy further stressed on having an impartial caretaker government and an effective Election Commission for the credibility of coming elections.

“Pakistan needs radical change. Pakistan’s economy is not growing fast enough, Pakistan’s governments – federal and provincial -- are not delivering enough to the people,” Mr Thomson said, while talking about Dr Tahirul Qadri’s four-day sit-in in front of the Parliament. Dr Qadri’s demands included electoral reforms, reconstitution of the Election Commission and dismissal of federal and provincial governments.

However, Mr Thomson said, the change should be democratic and needs to come through Constitutional means, “not by storming parliament or prolonging a caretaker government beyond the constitutional provisions. It needs to be through the ballot box”.

The high commissioner used a chat with journalists invited at his residence to share his damning assessment of the political leadership, while raising questions about the leaders fulfilling standards set in the country’s Constitution for elected representatives.

He listed federal and provincial governments’ failures as ailing economy, power crisis and raging violent extremism.

Mr Thomson’s candid comments were quite unusual for a diplomat, particularly one from Britain, whose officials have been traditionally very cautious while commenting on political developments in the country even though some of them had in the past remained closely involved with a few political deals here.

Several questions were fired at him by journalists at the meeting in an effort to understand the reasons behind Mr Thomson’s ‘frank remarks’, but apparently couldn’t find the actual cause.

He said he felt concerned as be was an envoy of a country that is “a friendly observer and supporter of this country (Pakistan)”.

The ambassador said many Pakistani politicians shared his appraisal.

He stressed that democracy did not just mean elections, it was rather about delivering.

“The point we are trying to make is that democracy is not just about elections. It is about living up to the standards you set. It is about politicians as role models. It is about earning the trust of the people and delivering for the people.”

He had word of praise for protesters, who staged the sit-in last week in harsh winter, saying he saluted “the fact that tens of thousands of Pakistanis successfully demonstrated peacefully for things they cared about and that is given history in this country, a noteworthy and encouraging achievement.”

Mr Thomson said the sit-in was an “authentic expression” of discontentment of millions of ordinary Pakistanis who are not just concerned about them not getting the services, but “whether their political leaders are indeed accountable. Whether they are delivering for ordinary Pakistanis, and whether they are themselves meeting the high standards set for them in Pakistan’s constitution”.

However, he said, talk of unconstitutional means during the sit-in worried the British government.

“The demonstration in Islamabad had heard some very fiery rhetoric which at least to us sounded as though it was calling for action that went well beyond the Constitution.”

He urged all stakeholders to respect and adhere to the Constitution.

DAWN_VIDEO - /1029551/DAWN-RM-1x1

Comments (21) Closed

smhusain1 Jan 26, 2013 08:50pm
Can anyone explain why the head of state left to visit his estates in France and Britain at the height of the floods in Pakistan recently? There is nothing personal here but our leaders have to be accountable to the people for their actions, but the irony is that these very people will regain power again.
Secular Pakistan Jan 25, 2013 03:36pm
What's taking us so long to come face reality. It's not the envoy's fault or problem. The Pakistani nation has always been chained to the feudal with the help of the military and the mullah. These three entities have a stranglehold that needs to be broken.
smhusain1 Jan 25, 2013 08:37pm
The writing is on the wall for Pakistan. I would say that the 25th hour has started and a lot would depend on not only having elections but being accountable for your mandates and utterances as has been suggested here. People's will can only be tested if our leaders, civil and military, can be held accountable for the disasters which the country has faced since inception, the ultimate being the loss of one-half of the country. Nobody accounted here.
Ishrat salim Jan 25, 2013 08:01pm
Seem this guy has awaken TODAY after 5 years....unles we go into the root cause....things will never change....that is what Dr Qadri exposed which created panic among all politicians......
sraz45 Jan 25, 2013 10:09am
That is what is needed a radical change as to how Pakistan and Pakistanis conduct themselves, because the present government is run by incompetent legislators and bureaucrats and the masses are suffering. The youth of Pakistan have to lead the way at the ballot box in the next election. Power generation and of law and order should the first priority of the new government. NAB should have more authority and independence to take out corruption without getting influenced by money or intimidation.
Ahmed - Australia Jan 25, 2013 10:01am
i hope people of pakistan understand the value of their vote and reject present rulers in next election, this democratic government was worst then Musharraf Era, be it is centre of province, they looted the country like anything and pushed the people of Pak gone 20 years back....
Amjad Wyne Jan 25, 2013 06:44pm
The Pakistani leadership did not just fail to deliver yesterday, it was a failure from day one. Any reason why this call from UK is coming just now?
nayyar51 Jan 25, 2013 11:33am
Mr. Ambassador of UK, I don't think you will be so naive to wish a radical change sans unconstitutional way. Many countries are having a good time without constitution. Country comes first, politics and constitution comes later. And look, the constitution of United States of America guarantees liberty, freedom and human rights; but what it ultimately delivered was, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prisons...
Syed Ahmed Jan 25, 2013 03:51pm
British High Commissioner Adam Thomson is towing the line of Dr. Qadri. But what business he has to meddle with Pakistan
mjb Jan 25, 2013 03:09am
For God sakes please make these people in army and other places of power understand this, we need overhaul of the entire system, enough is enough we are tired of these politicians who only come to take away every bit of wealth which the country has....
ali Jan 25, 2013 03:32am
Yes he is right ,democracy does not just mean holding elections, it means that the elected representatives should DELIVER and not think that the victory has given them a license for corruption..
Dilawer Jan 25, 2013 03:40am
In simple words he says that the corruption and misgovernance should come to an end. How long the game of just politics will continue. The big seven families corruption should come to an end. Read his remarks again.
khan Jan 25, 2013 01:32pm
Why do we need a British diplomat to mention the obivious? It is WE THE PEOPLE that can change things in Pakistan. We can hope the independent judiciary and media and periodical elections will change things for the better in the future inshallah.
Mohammed Abbasi Jan 25, 2013 03:58am
I like this guy - he is honest and straight forward in his thinking.
iqbal Jan 25, 2013 04:26am
Pakistani children need to be educated so in 20 years they can elect educated good people who will change Pakistan. PPP and all others are just there to get rich and keep the people uneducated so they can rule them. So, education is the key to most of the Pakistani problems and this is what Islam teaches also.
Zak Jan 25, 2013 04:35am
Can his excellency start with advising his govt to stop the blatant BBC bias in favour of India and always always openly against Pakistan
Tanveer Jan 25, 2013 05:14am
a perfect most accurate analysis
Saeed Akhtar Jan 25, 2013 06:35am
What took the British envoy so long to come to terms with reality. However, it is better late than never. It was obvious from day one how capable was out political leadership. Even then the "friendly" governments continued attempts to prop up this failed leadership in the hope that it would deliver on their dictated agenda. I hope the world community at large now accepts this fact and discontinues efforts to bring it back to power.
Akmal Shah Jan 25, 2013 06:59am
Change through the ballot box is very desirable. But this change cannot be brought about by the present antiquated and thoroughly corrupted balloting system. Computerized balloting system can and will break the strangle hold of present politicians, and hopefully bring about a change for the better for Pakistan by induction of competent and new faces.
Dr Siddiqui Jan 25, 2013 07:30am
A well deserved Diplomatic slap on a society and its leaders! It sure will change nothing in the near future.
Khan Jan 25, 2013 08:09am
Except Pakistani leadership, bureaucracy, security forces and other power players everybody else is worried about Pakistan. Not sure when we wakeup and start fixing Pakistan before its too late. God bless our country.