Tahir ul Qadri joined an anti-government march on Pakistan's capital
Outspoken cleric has accused the government of corruption and campaigned for the poor
Qadri says many aspects of the federal government need to be decentralized
Talks about devolution of political, financial and administrative powers to the grass-roots level
Editor’s Note: Tahir ul Qadri is a Muslim cleric and Chairman of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), a political party he set up to push for social, economic and political reforms in Pakistan. He is also founder of Minhaj-ul-Quran International, an NGO that works to promote peace and harmony and a better understanding of Islam. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
So what kind of new political system do I want for Pakistan?
I want to change the governmental and administrative structure into a “participatory democracy” and devolve the political, financial and administrative powers to the grass-roots level. I have developed a model of modern systems and true democracy for the future prosperity of Pakistan.
After this “green revolution,” the current governmental and administrative structure will be changed into a system compatible with international standards – particularly those that already exist in the United States, Turkey, Japan and South Korea.
I know we are a hundred years away right now, so we want to shape the Pakistani model according to our circumstances.
My vision is that the head of the federal government should not be the leader of the house but the leader of the nation and will be directly elected by the people. This will put an end to political bargaining and horse-trading that dictates our current system.
Devolution of power
I want to implement true participatory democracy by involving a million people to share power by delegating authority to the grass-roots level. Article 140 (a) of our constitution prescribes to put in place a system of local government – developing power at the grass-roots level. To make clear this concept of democracy, I’ve used the United States and Turkey as examples.
The U.S. has a population of 320 million with 50 states, 3,024 county governments, 16,405 township governments, 19,429 municipal governments and more than 35,000 special purpose governments. Turkey has a population of 76 million, has 81 provinces, has developed 957 districts governments, 3,216 municipal governments and has set up 34,495 rural governments.
I also want to limit the number of ministries at the center of government in Islamabad. Power and authority will be devolved from the center to the grass-roots level. The center will only keep key ministries to deal with currency, defense, inland security and counter-terrorism, foreign policy, higher education and energy. All other ministries will be transferred to the provinces and districts.
I want to see 35 provinces in Pakistan instead of just four for a population of 180 million. Under the new system, every division of Pakistan will be awarded the status of a province to ascertain that power, authority and resources are devolved down to the district levels and do not remain centralized. Similarly, I want to see 150 districts and 800 sub-division governments consisting of 400 city governments and 400 rural governments. I also want to see 6,000 union council’s governments.
Pakistan’s green revolution will implement the following 10-point revolutionary charter for the people of Pakistan that have been living below poverty line.
1. Every low-paid lower class will be provided daily necessities (food items etc) at half price;
2. Every low-paid lower class will be exempt for paying taxes on utility bills & will offered at half price;
3. Every homeless will be given a house; middle class family will be provided interest-free loans;
4. Every unemployed person will be given adequate employment;
5. Women to be provided employment;
6. State health insurance system will be developed for free medical treatment;
7. Free and compulsory education and modernization of education system;
8. Free 5-10 acres of agriculture land for poor farmers;
9. Disparity between pay structures of public and private employees to be minimized;
10. Revolutionary policy to eliminate terrorism, extremism and sectarianism and establishment of peace training centers across Pakistan.