THIS is regarding the national debate these days on what form of government we should have in the country. A slugfest about the system of governance is futile. Our real problems are the absence of leadership and autocracy in political parties.
M.J Akbar has rightly observed that ‘the political leaders act like sand dunes … and move in the direction the wind blows’. The former American diplomat and author, John R. Schmidt, agrees, saying that mainstream political parties can best be viewed as patronage networks whose primary goal is seeking political offices to gain access to state resources which can then be used to distribute patronage among their members.
Why is it so? Stanley A. Kochanek, professor emeritus of political science, touches the conundrum by pointing out that political parties are built top-down and are identified with their founders. The office-holders are appointed by the leader. Membership rolls are largely bogus and organisational structure exists only on paper.
Most political parties are non-democratic in their structure, character and outlook. The process for leadership selection is not by election, but by nomination. Political parties have no links with policy processes as personalities rather than issues matter.
Sans pro-poor leadership and democratic parties, democracy — presidential or parliamentary — in Pakistan is doomed.
Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2020