PM’s Protocol
By Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)
Westridge, Pakistan

Now that a few amendments to the constitution – Article 62, 63, etc., are in the offing it is time we started thinking of taking measures that would ensure real democracy in the country.
One of the causes of democracy not taking solid roots in Pakistan has been the concentration of too much power in the person of the Prime Minister, which has often resulted in a tussle between the Heads of the Government (Prime Minister) and the Heads of the State (Governor General/President) over power sharing between the two. Right from the early days of Governor General Ghulam Muhammad dissolving the Constituent Assembly and firing Prime Minister Khawaja Nazim ud Din seeds of discord were sown between the two Heads. The divide became so acute that the first President of Pakistan, Major General (R) Iskander Mirza, had to impose the first Martial Law in the country. Thereafter, in almost all the successive governments, both tried to curtail the powers of the other through constitutional measures and amendments, some of them comically unconstitutional. Not only that, through subtle measures efforts were made to reduce the importance of the President by installing totally tutelary figurehead Presidents like Ch. Fazal Ilahi and Mr Muhammad Rafiq Tarar. And no effort was spared to display the grandeur and power of the PM similar to that of the president, or even more. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto while stepping down from the Presidential pedestal to become the PM brought along all the Presidential protocol baggage and fanfare - the ADCs, the Military Secretary, the national anthem, the First Lady title, etc. with him to the PM’s office. No where in the world the Prime Minister is entitled to these protocols.
Our politicians never tire of citing the Indian democratic traditions but they totally ignore the simplicity of the Indian Prime Minister’s office. He just appears on the TV to address the nation without any fanfare. No national anthem, no national flag, no nothing.
Such flamboyant ostentation unconsciously breeds haughtiness into the head of the Chief Executive, inculcating hegemonic behaviour towards others.
As a first step towards ensuring mutual respect between these two highest offices and of late the judiciary as well, suggest that such protocol be withdrawn from the PM immediately. We must realize that the Head of the State is the head of the country and a PM is the head of the government – an executive head only. Similarly, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is the head of the judiciary in the country. They are institutions in themselves and must respect and not let down each other. Each one of them and other institutions are important for democracy to flourish in the country. Each one has a definite role to play. They must strengthen each other instead of competing against each other.


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