technocratic government pakistan

Written by Muhammad Hamza Tanvir 9:09 pm Articles, Current Affairs, Pakistan, Published Content

Prospects of a Technocratic Government in Pakistan

Rumors of technocracy have been echoing in Pakistan for a few weeks as the country’s economic plight worsens with each passing day. A technocratic government is a form of government in which the ministers of the government are not politicians by career and do not necessarily belong to any political party.
About the Author(s)
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Mr Muhammad Hamza Tanvir graduated from COMSATS University. He has a keen interest in international relations and regional politics.

Introduction

Pakistan’s economic condition is totally in shambles nowadays, as political governments have failed to implement IMF’s tough conditions. Many experts and political leaders are signaling that the country could default in some weeks or months. The alarming condition of Pakistan’s economy can be gauged from the fact that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has felt the need of announcing more than once that the country is not going to default.

Some have proposed the idea of a technocratic government in Pakistan that would take all the necessary actions to make the country go on the right track without any fear of losing the vote bank. However, both the government and the opposition are rejecting the idea of a technocratic government. Furthermore, no one is sure who proposed this idea.

What is a Technocratic Government?

A technocratic government is such a form of government in which the ministers of the government do not necessarily belong to any political party and are not politicians by career. Individuals are appointed to the ministries on the bases of their expertise. For example, the finance minister of the country would be someone which an academic background in the field of economics who might have worked at IMF for years just like Reza Baqir, the former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, and Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, former finance minister of Pakistan.

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Technocrats do not run for elections to hold offices. In some countries, the Prime Minister of the state is also a technocrat from a majority party. In Greece and Italy, the Prime Ministers are both economists and technocrats. A technocratic setup is brought into a country when the political parties fail to deliver.

A technocratic government is known to take hard decisions that a political government fails to take lest losing their vote bank. In some instances, a technocratic government is also set up by the consensus of all the parliamentary parties when they don’t agree to form a normal government. Pakistan has seen technocratic governments in the past in the eras of General Zia and General Pervez Musharraf.

Is it a Viable Option?

The option of a technocratic government is echoing in the upper echelons of Pakistan’s leadership. This setup is being touted as a panacea to all the economic and governance issues of the country, with many experts including senior economist Shabbar Zaidi supporting the idea of this setup. However, people from the opposition and government benches are opposing the idea of a technocratic government.

Currently, it is being proposed that a long-term interim government be set up which would take all the necessary actions to improve the economic conditions of the country. Mr. Zaidi holds that the current government has already wasted ample time in taking much-needed decisions and that the country is not in a condition to afford this attitude. He holds that the previous PTI-led government, too, failed to take such decisions.

All these imprudent and popular decisions by the incumbent and former governments have resulted in the current economic predicament of the country. Although the PDM government is opposed to this notion, it seems that the PDM might relent as it does not want early elections due to the increased popularity of Imran Khan. All the recent surveys and political jalsas show that the PDM government is highly unpopular and that the popularity graph of Imran Khan is at its peak. If an early election happens, it would be difficult for the PDM coalition to defeat PTI.

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A technocratic government would buy the PDM some time for improving its public image. The PDM coalition would use it as a tool to put the onus of all the economic ills on that technocratic setup and the establishment of the country. Therefore, it is likely that the PDM coalition might support this notion of a technocratic government in Pakistan.

The constitution of Pakistan, however, does not allow a long-term interim setup. Article 224 bounds the interim government to act only as a caretaker setup and hold elections within a duration of 3 months. So, a long-term interim government would be a violation of the constitution. Similarly, Article 232 only allows the proclamation of emergency on account of the war, internal disturbance, etc. Hence, it seems impossible to set up such a form of government in the country.

One thing that should be kept in mind is that whenever a technocratic government is set up in a country, most of the technocrats hired have served in international institutions like the IMF. This shows why people having a personal interest in coming to power are advocating this type of government. One should be reminded that the intentions of imported technocrats would always remain questionable.

Moreover, it does not seem that a technocratic government could take Pakistan out of this mess, as such would only be possible by changing the basic setup of the state institution.


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