One is worse than the other

While Western dynastic politicians downplay their lineage for fear of losing voters, the illustrious children of Pakistani politicians are actively betting on it. Events such as the youngest Bhutto losing two out of three seats in the 2018 elections showed that political dynasties are (very) gradually being pushed back at the constituency level.

But this rejection hardly diminishes the influence that a prince-child can enjoy at the national level, because of a birthright that never ceases to give; legacy of a political party.

Let there be no doubt about it; Anyone who thinks Pakistan will make much progress with the children of two families is sadly mistaken. But the type of political dynasties to be fervently resisted must first be identified.

There are two types of dynastic politics in Pakistan.

First, rulers who inherit the leadership of a political party, and second, local rulers who contest elections from a seat

that a parent was

elected of (keyword: elected). But like great fortunes and unlike dynastic parties, it is rare for a seat in the Assembly to survive a third generation.

It is certainly easier to win a seat once won by your father; the son of an elected official inherits not only wealth, but also a party ticket, personal connections and the unwavering loyalty of voters belonging to a prominent local caste. Either way, such a dynast still isn’t worth much without the most prized feature of democracy: the vote of the people. A local dynast’s voters can simply reject him if they don’t like his ways; a luxury not offered to voters when it comes to leading a party.

However, it doesn’t matter if the argument for voting to depose local rulers isn’t compelling enough for the reader of this column, because local rulers are here to stay – contesting, if not winning. It is simply not possible to impose a restriction by law on contesting elections if a parent was previously in the Assembly; to do so would be as undemocratic as Pervez Musharraf’s degree requirement, which was one of the few things illegal enough to be struck down by Musharraf’s own man in the Supreme Court.

Political dynasties become a national problem when the children of a few families begin to control which other families can continue their mini-dynasties (distribution of party tickets), because it means they are the leaders of a party that has been given to them transmitted without democratic means. .

The situation is best described by Asad Rahim Khan, “This is how Lord Hamza became Chief Minister, like his father before him, like his uncle before his father, and like his son and grandson after him.”

To oppose local rulers rather than their party overlords would be to waste energy on an inevitable by-product of a nascent democracy.

If it is morally wrong for sons and daughters to inherit an attempt – and only an attempt – at the baffling profession of constituency politics, the same rule must apply to the inheritance of private businesses. This is surely faulty logic, and none of it is morally wrong.

Why do party leaders choose blood first when placing parliamentarians in key positions? Simply win in parliament. As difficult as it is already to physically have a majority in parliament despite having the numbers on paper (you need buses and hotels now), it becomes much more difficult when the parliamentarian in question is anyone other than the leader of the party. Intra-party competition and local rivalries will always trump party loyalty.

Still, that’s a weak excuse for not extending power beyond the family, especially after the equally weak Supreme Court judgment that doesn’t count failing votes.

Differentiating between dynasties, of course, is only temporary comfort so that our review can focus on deserving quarters.

Electoral reforms for political parties are the need of the hour, after which political dynasties of all kinds will take care of themselves. Inspiration can be drawn from how the Conservative Party will replace former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The nomination of at least 20 MPs must be won by each candidate, followed by consecutive ballots by party MPs until only two remain.

These two will then fight to win the vote of around 180,000 party members. A process almost as tedious as the general election itself takes place in the UK to ensure that a candidate for Prime Minister is worthy of the high office he will hold.

Pakistan has a long way to go to match the democracy of the UK, but it is essential to develop a system to get rid of the families who control political parties.

Needless to say, such reforms are unlikely to be brought about by political parties that profit from dynastic politics. Whether dynastic politicians are better suited to the country, as some claim, is a debate for another column (they are not). —Sairam Hussain Miran, law student at LUMS.

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