Can Pakistan Elect the “Right” Leader?

By: Yasmeen Ali

The election of the “right”  man(or woman), much as one seeks in a marriage, is the first stone to the erection of a relationship. If those contesting for representing a nation either at the provincial or federal level, lack the qualities much needed to undertake the responsibilities after being elected, nothing can be more disastrous. We have made a choice that must only lead to catastrophic results. Worse, once we’ve made our bed, we must lie on it!

What if the criteria to elect the person itself creates a hurdle?

Any Constitution, worth its salt, must be elastic, to be able to adapt to different times,  it must be timeless, it must be carefully worded so that it is not redundant, and choice of words must not be based on expressions impossible to pin down for all to agree upon. Inclusion of subjective words transcend the boundaries of legal definition and are open to misinterpretation and confusion.

Article 62 of the Constitution of Pakistan was washed, spun in the washing machine, to emerge, dressed in subjective words-a brainchild of Gen. Zia, then injected in the Constitution, alas, for it never to revert again to its original form.

It focuses on qualities, admirable no doubt, but subjective in interpretation, like a person wishful of contesting elections, must be “sagacious, righteous and non-profligate and honest and ameen”. However, how can such subjective terms be translated into a legal parameter and applied on individuals in a court of law? Different people will have different levels of measuring these qualities. But arriving on one level of measure, one context of application, one meaning of the term is virtually impossible.

These and other equally subjective treatments given to Article 62 was included via Presidential Ordinance No. 14 of 1985. The original Article was a simple piece of legislation:

Qualifications for membership of Parliament.– A person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Parliament unless:
(a) he is a citizen of Pakistan,
(b) he is, in the case of the National Assembly, not less than twenty-five years of age and is enrolled as a voter in any electoral roll for election to that Assembly;
(c) he is, in the case of the Senate, not less than thirty years of age and is enrolled as a voter in any area in a Province or, as the case may be, the Federal Capital or the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, from where he seeks membership; and
(d) he possess such other qualifications as may be prescribed by Act of Parliament.”

The End.

Or was it really the end? The new criteria laid down by Zia, was the beginning of an era, based on electing representatives on qualities, no doubt sought in a good human being, but neigh impossible to measure by legal standards, or any standards for that matter. He left for us a Constitution, that is confusing ,detailed and makes sure, it leaves doors wide open for all kinds of interpretations. The word subjective is defined as:

“pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual: a subjective evaluation”.

There are many elements that need a mention in Article 62 but have somehow escaped the attention of our lawmakers. Should not a prospective contestant have onlyPakistani nationality? Should not a prospective contestant declare all his assets and have 50% minimum assets in Pakistan? Should not a prospective contestant declare his taxation paid for past immediately preceding 10 years(at least)? Should not a contestant be a minimum graduate?

How can the people of any nation elect a leader who defaults on taxation? How can the people of any nation elect a leader with no stake in a country he purports to lead? How can the people of a nation elect a leader with dual nationality thereby leading to conflict of interest? How can the people of any nation elect a leader with no education?

They can.

In Pakistan. As the Constitution lays down no such demand.

Till such time that the Constitution takes into consideration the needs of the people, Pakistan will continue failing in electing the “right” leader! For how long, Pakistan will continue electing her representatives on laws that ignore the ground realities and are based more on subjective analysis?

This brings me to the application of this very law by the Supreme Court, to the person of Prime Minister Gilani in the NRO judgment, announced on 10th January 2012. The order stated,’ Prima Facie the prime minister is not an honest man and violated his oath.’

This does not mean to say, any one flouting Supreme Court directive not be questioned. What it does mean is, we must continue scrutinize our laws to evaluate their applicability to a living society. Laws are for people, people are not for laws.

Lao-tzu in “The Way of Lao-tzu”  states, ”The more law and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be”.

I think I am talking about a 2oth Amendment-or something!

NOTE: The article is drawn from a paper submitted to PESA(Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Association) by the author in January 2012. Only reference to Supreme Court judgment declared on 10th Jan. 2012 is added in.

The writer is a lawyer, teaching in a University in Lahore. She may be reached

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  • Arnaurd de Borchgrave  On January 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Tks Yasmeen. I see you’ve mastered the triple mixed metaphor – Any constitution worth its salt, must be elastic, to be able to adapt to different times, etcetera. Nice.
    Assume you’ve seen today’s David Ignatius column
    Happy New Year, I think!

  • MAB  On January 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Right leaders is a fascist concept.

    Democracies are based on elected leaders.


  • Karan Madan  On January 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    It is really a good article. But ultimately it is a question of morality. A person with PhD earned through jugaad technology may be much worse than a illiterate, but an illiterate person with vision cn take a country to new hights. So the loyality and integrity toawards nation should not be held hostage to constitutional provisions. But agin everything is subjective. Our own leader Rahul Gandhi has done MPhil (Cambridge University) directly after +2 (CBSE). It sounds absurd even to a layman, but it is as per his affidavit sumbmitted to Parliament.
    having said that our worthy Parliamentarians has recently punctured the Lokpal Bill in Rajya Sabha (equivalent to Senate) and these people are never ashamed of their conduct. Recently Pak SC slamming PM Gilani as a dishonest person. We can see India and Pakistani politicians share many important features. I see some hope in Imran Khan to rescue Pakistan, but you might be knowing better. In India, Modi and Nitish are really doing well. But Modi could not emerge as a national politician because of his partisan role in duirng riots in 2002 in the aftermath of Godhra incident.
    After these people are elected, they should be sent for military training, made to run 5-10 kms a day.
    with regards
    KVS Madaan

  • Ali Kazim  On January 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Thank you for an illuminating article. Regards.

  • Stacey Solomon  On January 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    What is the issue? the issue is over population of this country. Dictators have spends 50 years out of 63 years and problems are there. When dictator comes he using the one million arm forces for his strength but unfortunately no dictator has addressed to population.Remember! this population is a greater bomb than Dr. Qadeer’s Bomb. Education, poverty and political awareness are secondary issues what I think.

    • S U Turkman  On January 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm

      Yeah but how come Population has never been an issue in USA?

  • MAB  On January 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    NRO was a political settlement to put an end to political strife.

    That enabled holding of elections.

    Supreme Court should not try to ride over the political process.


    • Mansoor Mubeen  On January 13, 2012 at 7:16 am

      really ? please enlighten us more on this nomenclature.

  • Idrees  On January 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Profound issues are at stake. The headless chickens of our distorted
    structures are coming home to roost to be set right. Right now, we
    need a sense of proportion & balance more than ever to resolve the
    very basic issues of centers of authority, the will of Allah above the
    will of man..Slips are showing in the inherently contradictory
    distortions..Delicate times require patience & wisdom, starting with
    “Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” and Buddha’s precept “Right
    thought, right speech, right action” in one word, right attitude.

  • Nasim Hassan  On January 11, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Pakistan is at a time in history where Democracy will not help the common people. Democracy helps only those societies where the educated middle class or civil society have a certain minimum level of influence.

    Just look at political landscape of Pakistan. In Sindh, the land lords and Hari have a master and servant relationship. In Karachi and other urban areas, MQM will win no matter what. The land lords have all the cards. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, there is a strong tribal and religious divide. They will vote only for their own. Similar situation exists in Southern Punjab and Baluchistan.

    Democracy in America does not seem to work in 21st century. Just compare Communist China and the USA during the past thirty years. The standard of living in the USA has continuously declined while China without free market capitalism and free press has uplifted over 300 million people out of poverty.

    Should Pakistan emulate China or the USA? This is the question I like to put forward to people on this forum.

    Nasim Hassan

    • S U Turkman  On January 11, 2012 at 8:01 pm

      Mr. Hassan,
      In Karachi MQM wins because people vote MQM, not because Guns are put to their Heads as you have been falsely told. Why don’t you put some pictures of people under MQM Gun in Polling Booths before posting your false claim, my Bigot Punjabi Brother?
      China’s Standard of Living would not have gone up and USA’s would not have been on standstill if American Capitalists had not started closing down their factories in USA and installing them in China 30 years ago. Chinese have become richer because USA has been purchasing 1/3rd of all Exports of China and US Companies have supplied them technology to sell more products to rest of the world..
      How can corrupt Pakistan emulate China?
      Had not American Capitalists come to Pakistan first before they went to China to build their factories?
      Had not Americans built Dodge Car factory and Ford Truck Factory in Pakistan in late 1950’s?
      Had not Germans built Mercedes factory in Pakistan in 1960?
      Had not Holland built Phillips TV factory in 1980’s in Pakistan?
      Had not a US Air Conditioner manufacturing company built a factory in Pakistan in late 1980’s?
      Had not Saudis poured in money for Industrial Projects in Pakistan and were also cheated?
      Had not Pakistanis in USA, who had gone back to give advance Technology to Pakistan and build factories were laughed at and were asked, “Who told you to come back?”
      You see, all those projects failed and those people lost their money because your Protection Money or Jiziyah Extortion Racket in Pakistan. Nobody can pay you more than they can earn and you can not keep extorting money from Foreign Investors for their Sin of being sympathetic to Pakistanis and Pakistan forever. You see, there is God. What you are seeing in Pakistan is, …
      LaanaTollah …!

  • Mohammad Chaudhry  On January 12, 2012 at 1:45 am

    I tend to endorse your viewpoint that parameters for public representatives shouldn’t be subjective or vaguely defined but in specific terms,a set of traits and qualifications fit for objective evaluation and clear legal interpretation, some of them you’ve defined.Let me add a few more,like good judgement,capacity for analytical evaluation,integerity,commitment,candidness and good degree of self-denial.In the context of apex court judgement,reference to keeping loyality to a person or party,instead of following the constitutional obligation for implementation of court orders,is clearly violation of the oath of P.M.

  • S U Turkman  On January 12, 2012 at 6:08 am

    “Jaisee Rooh, waisay FrishTay”
    No. Pakistanis can not elect right leaders. They can elect leaders just like them because they would be their Representatives, not Saints. A System is built on trial and error basis but in Pakistan no efforts are made to even start building that System because Military keeps taking over.
    Its like not letting a Toddler learn to get up and walk by his crazy Parents, in this case Pak Military. No Branch of Pak Government is independent or without influence of Islamabad Establishment. Even Federal Ministers can not get rid of their Secretaries. Judiciary lives under threat of Administration and Judges are shot dead to make an example out of them.
    Home Minister of Pakistan, a retired Army General is attacked by ISI Assassins, even when country is being ruled by Army. He still does not want to be a good slave so, his brother is killed by ISI just like MQM’s Syed Altaf Hussain’s older brother was shot dead. Just like sitting Prime Minister, Benazir’s only living brother was shot dead along-with his Guards by Police in Uniform.
    Sorry, I can not agree with your Wise Smart rule of Islamabad like that. I would let Satan win Election if Pakistanis want him to rule but not your Fascist Military because Pakistanis have never elected it. At least Satan would be ruling with approval of Pakistanis. Who’s approval you have been ruling Pakistan for almost 47 out of last 55 years?
    Why are you propagating that Pakistanis can not elect right leaders if you are sincere in transferring of power to Pakistanis?
    What Pakistanis have got to lose, given the condition, what kind of brink of extinction your Military has brought down Pakistan to?
    You tell us Pakistanis are united behind your?
    Tell me, which Non Punjabis would want to remain a part of Pakistan if India or USA defeats Pak Military after invading Pakistan?
    Even SanT Nagar, Lahore may file a Petition to be a free state in that case, sir. Prostitutes should have some shame talking about Morality and God.

  • FM  On January 12, 2012 at 11:40 am

    We forget that system is such that it will be Zardari Madaris sharif Badmashs who will come up with Band Bajaa of Mullahs. There is no hope it will ever change except that academic discussions will continue to burn our blood.
    I am profoundly sad today what a sad moment for Nation. I wish some one realises that an attempt has been made to spoil China- Pak relationship. This is an act of treason. No one can take any Awans G, Z and co to Gallows.

    What Leadership we are looking for?????????????

    • S U Turkman  On January 12, 2012 at 6:32 pm

      ISI had tried to wreck Sino-Pak Friendship a decade ago by supplying Weapons to Moslims in Western China. 800 killings occurred. Then, again ISI was caught with a JehaaDi Training Camp near Chinese Border to train Sneak Attack JehaaDi Terrorists of China. When Gen. Keyani was called in Beijing was asked to explain this, he had used the same answer that Gen. Musharraf had used in front of USA, when asked about Tribal Areas, “We do not control those areas”.

      It worked in front of USA but not in front of Chinese. This is why China had sent 7,000 to 12,000 Troops in Gilgit to secure her border, while Pakistan covered this incident up by saying they are here to build a Highway to link China with Gwadur. The Gwadur Highway lie remains exposed because those Chinese Troops have not even surveyed for such a Highway for the last few years and when I asked Chinese Officials during my Trip to China, they just laughed at this Paki Lie.
      Pakistan has no Friendship with China left. Its just a Show. China has refused to sign any Defense Treaty against India or USA deapite Pak Military’s requests. China had also immediately denied that she would be replacing the Charity of USA Aid and Loans to Pakistan, when ISI had tried to propagate that lie.

      After Pak Military had learned, China would not even lift a Finger if Pakistan was attacked by India, ‘merTaa kiyaa naa kerTaa’, Pak Military rushed to improve relations with India and authorized the Most Favored Nation status to India. But I guess, no Pakis have Brains to understand all this. Maashaa Allah …!
      Pakistan ZinDaabaaD …!

  • Rafiq Mian  On January 12, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    I have pretty much chosen against; choosing my time between the opera unleashed upon our nation by “P”, garnished by “N” and topped by THE “Mevlana”. So does it always happen that your call alone incites me unto saying, my two bits? Yes, it does!

    Zia with his; “sagacious, righteous and non-profligate and honest and ameen”. Gosh, read Qayoum on him. Zia was a chameleon para phrase. But then again; ZB, N and BB were none else.

    But, my dear what do we have now? Our order today is a competition between sewers vis-a-vis cesspool.

    I plan to visit Pakistan in two weeks. I think, I shouldn’t.

    Oh, Life !!!!!

  • Syed Wajahat  On January 13, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Concept of “Elected Leaders” in the modern world needs to be redefined.

    Elections are a product of profits. That is why nominees for election need
    funding. Only those who are well funded get to be nominated. The field
    gets narrowed down not because of their lack of abilities or poor agendas
    but simply because those who fund the candidate do not like them.

    What public gets to vote for is decided long time prior to elections not by the
    public but those who hoard wealth and use it for their agenda.

    For the true democracy to work, the whole process from start to finish
    needs to be volunteer. There should be no funding or financing involved
    or necessary.

    That is when the citizen get to choose. Sponsors and corporations
    need to be pulled out of the process to keep it honest.

    That is the only way, a ‘Right’ leader can emerge.

    Syed W. Hussain

    • S U Turkman  On January 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      Oh so, you want all Political Parties to become like MQM. Neither the Candidates nor Party spends any money and Candidates still win all the time.

  • MAB  On January 13, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Mansoor Sahib

    German philosopher propounded the idea of Right man and Super man.

    Nietzsche was the most prominent. The German quest ended in Hitler.

    He was beaten up by democratically elected leaders like Churchill and Roosevelt.


    • S U Turkman  On January 13, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      That’s right. Hitler was defeated by Churchill and Roosevelt and stupid USSR had not had to sacrifice 2 million of its troops to defeat him. Germany had not surrendered to Soviet Troops. They were US and British Troops, right?
      Lets also give credit of winning WW I to USA and British because we had fought on the side of British, as British Army Soldiers then. What the heck, who knows any facts anymore. Facts are, what we say, right?

  • Mansoor Mubeen  On January 13, 2012 at 11:42 am

    bajwa sahab

    thank you for your feedback.

    Hitler was rightly beaten up, although he was also democratically elected.

    • S U Turkman  On January 13, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      No sir, He was not Democratically elected to …
      * … conspire against Socialists Party, Communist Party and other Anti Nazi Parties.
      * … scam, falsely accuse others of Treason and start Police Action against them in the name of Germans, who’s majority had not elected him. (Nazis had not won majority in Parliament. They were only largest Party. They had right to form Coalition Government, not outright usurpation of Power)
      * … turn Germany in to a Fascist State.
      * … make Germany start WW II.
      * … turn Germany in to a Racist Society by scare tactics, force and false propaganda.
      He had used his popularly wrongfully and usurped power without being democratically elected to do everything he had done. Please read History of 3rd Reich …!

  • Pervez  On January 14, 2012 at 4:33 am

    I find it very strange that people hope to ‘elect’ the ‘right’ leader. If you want the ‘right’ leader, a better way is to design a system that will identify suitable candidates, as the Pakistani Public Service Commissions do.

    First establish the criteria you feel describes the ‘right’ leader then run applicants or those who accept an invitation, to take the tests, and voila! You have the ‘right’ leader.

    Lesson, you don’t ‘elect’ the ‘right’ leader, you select him through a well designed selection system. If you don’t understand this, then resign to the quality of leaders we have now… each and every one is elected. The laws of probability operate and you get what you ask for. Use a system to bring out the worst and surprise, surprise… you get the worst.

    Don’t read me wrong. Many countries try to elect the right leader – and look at the mess they have created… and continue to. Time to put your thinking cap on and escape from the system that has brought so much misery. Call it democracy or whatever, but look at the results.

    Parvez Amin

    • S U Turkman  On January 14, 2012 at 7:58 am

      Oh you mean, “Don’t change Faces, change the System …!”
      Well many came and went saying this. All of them were declared Traitors of Pakistan and their followers were jailed or killed by our patriotic Military. What can you do, our Holy Islamic Military thinks, it has the best System and nothing needs to be changed. Unless Pakistanis are ready to take Bullets on their Chest our Military is not going to agree and even if all Non Punabi people start taking Bullets on their Chests Military would keep killing them because its not Military of Pakistan. Its a Foreign Military. Its Military of Punjab and Punjbis would never stand up against their own brothers in Military. They would declare the majority Traitor like we had declared the majority of Pakistanis in East Pakistan Traitors.
      You see, in Pakistan rule of law, majority’s decision or Islam doesn’t matter. Just Islamabad matters. .

  • Tasneem Hassan  On January 14, 2012 at 7:00 am

    TEAM of NRO (CULPRITS) has spoiled the whole development in Pakistan. This is called sabotage by MY patient who remained in Army for 30 years. This was planned by USA once Musharraf attacked LAL MASJID and disgraced the Ideology of Pakistan and developed secret contacts with TALLIBAN to blow all religious education centers in Tribal Areas of Afghanistan and Border of Pakistan. NATO and TALLIBAN R one and the same set of fighters who fight to kill Muslims in the poor countries like IRAQ, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Kashmir and Palestine are beginning of this whole battle against Muslims sponsored by Jews and Christians of US and EU.

    • S U Turkman  On January 14, 2012 at 7:44 am

      Do you really think, by your telling us everything opposite way you can change our minds and stop believing in Facts, Mollaa Jee?

  • Mohammad Chaudhry  On January 16, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Yasmeen, you’re pretty right,the choice of a leader ,based on subjective evaluation anywhere in the world,be it America or Pakistan ,gives a country or nation ,the quality of leadership that makes or mars the fate of that nation. The subjective choice of Americans gave them Bush who landed America in to a series of guamires,from Afghanistan/Iraq wars,resulting in a spiralling debt of $11 Trillions to economic melt-down through poor fiscal policies.The objective critiria are based on the positive traits,instead of colour,creed,religion or race ,thus avoid picking any stuff from dynasties and go for anyone posessing postive set of traits,at least in relative terms, Imran Khan instead of AAZ or Nawaz Sharif.

  • Inam Khan  On January 16, 2012 at 2:50 am

    “NOT FOR NOW”:……………………..Inam Khan

  • MAB  On January 16, 2012 at 2:51 am

    It is General MacArthur who resigned, not President Truman.


    • S U Turkman  On January 16, 2012 at 4:24 am

      In USA, there have been no Traitors of Constitution born for the last 150 years because land of USA does not create ‘Nmak Hraam’ Traitors like Pakistan’ naa paak land does. Or may be Islam causes creation of ‘NaNgay WaTan NaNgay Qoam’ Traitors of Constitution because all Moslim Countries are Police State any way.

  • Seema Manazir  On January 6, 2013 at 10:39 am

    An interestingly excellent point of view based on common sense which is quite uncommon among us unfortunately.

  • Shams Abbas  On January 6, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Excellent.Makes eminent sense.What are the articles in the Constitution for?Not just for filling up the blanks.
    These have to be implemented in letter and spirit.Sadly our intellectuals and our judiciary in particular have never emphasized on article 62 and the relevant clauses of the Constitution which debar demagogues and villains from getting elected.Why because there is an undisclosed handshake between the judiciary,the so called intellectuals and the beneficiaries for mutual self interest.

    Shams Z Abbas

  • sturkman  On January 6, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Pakistan’s Constitution is not what you read. Pakistan’s real Constitution is top Secret. It has only one Clause and its based on ‘Need of Time’ or ‘Nazariyaa a zrooraT’ because Pakistan was demanded on ‘need’ of Moslims of the Sub Continent. Everybody extorts Bribes for the same reason. Those great Moslim Pak people ‘need’ some ‘Hraam’ money in Fort of Islam, Idlamic Republic of Pakistan. What can you do.


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