Home Editorial Editorial: Clash between Institutions

Editorial: Clash between Institutions

Pakistan’s Parliament has been weakened by a marginalization of the opposition that began in 2018

by Editorial

File photo. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

The Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) last year issued a paper on the “clash of institutions” in Pakistan, portending doom for the country’s future. Stressing that Parliament is the weakest of Pakistan’s institutions, it warns that other institutions have been negatively affected because parliamentarians have “pretended to represent the people of Pakistan.” Simply, it states, “Parliament provides a significant platform to sort out differences and arrive at a workable solution, but if the elected institution becomes conflicted and deadlocked, it allows the clash to spread to other institutions of the state.” The paper blames this weakness on the treasury and opposition benches losing their working relationship from the election of Imran Khan as prime minister in 2018, noting that the PTI chose to run the system without much focus on Parliament, marginalizing the opposition, and launching a “witch-hunt” against rivals.

Imran Khan’s popular rise saw institutions in retreat, but he unable to overcome a crisis of legitimacy, often being labeled a “selected prime minister” by his opponents. His tenure in office also saw a rise in bad governance, especially in the realms of provincial autonomy, finance, foreign policy, education, local government, law and order and freedom of expression. Rarely attending parliamentary proceedings, Khan’s avoidance cemented Parliament’s sidelining as the weakest organ of the state.

This vacuum was filled by the establishment, with the PTI drawing its support from retired bureaucrats, judges, ambassadors, and generals. It must be noted that “this class has been generally skeptical of parliamentary democracy, remaining fixated on the role of a supreme leader.” However, despite enjoying greater support from the establishment than any other prime minister, Khan fumbled when he refused to endorse the Army’s nominee for the replacement of then-ISI DG Faiz Hameed, triggering a fallout that culminated in the military declaring “neutrality” in all political matters. Moving forward, the only way for Parliament to regain its supremacy is through a new “political settlement” that restores the status of the opposition and institutionalizes an economic framework that focuses on providing relief to the public—regardless of which party is in power.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment