Political parties formulate their respective election manifestoes by bringing up hopes and dreams to develop solutions to the entire social, economic, and regional problems. In most of the developed countries, these manifestoes play an integral role. The leaders of the respective parties discuss and compare their previous performances with respect to their manifesto.
The developing nations around the globe also follow this practice, for example in the last general election of 2013 in Pakistan; the two agendas were in limelight, PTI’s Naya Pakistan and PML-N’s ‘Roshan Pakistan’. Yet again it looks like that in the upcoming elections, the two political slogans will again be in the glare of publicity, but with the difference that both of these slogans have somehow been practiced at national level.
As the elections are coming close, the political parties have already started to boast about their performances. After the orders of the current Chief Justice of Pakistan, the political parties are following the rule of modesty by not advertising in newspapers, but they are promoting their parties by inaugurating incomplete projects.
In this scenario of the election year, PTI has presented an agenda, which highlights the tasks to be completed in the first 100 days of the government if the PTI government wins the upcoming elections, which is still a million dollar probability. PTI’s agenda basically focuses on the public, where a lot of importance has been given to health and education sector. The agriculture sector has also given more weightage.
Most importantly as per the agenda, the issue of bad governance will also be tackled ie governance related reforms will be implemented on the priority bases. The job creation will be done by generating around 10 million jobs. The housing sector will also be given importance and around five million homes will be made. The legal and constitutional efforts will be made to quickly evolve anew province of South Punjab. As per the agenda, it looks that PTI will also avoid the process of privatization of national enterprises like PIA.
All this looks extremely well planned and articulated. But there are some questions which have been intentionally or unintentionally left unaddressed. The most important question is about the financial situation of the country. Due to the successful implementation of the ‘Darnomics’, the debt burden has been increased to almost 70.1 percent of the GDP, this means for the purpose of debt servicing, the upcoming government will either go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or new financial friends like China.
The PTI’s manifesto cum agenda or vice versa, seems interesting. Finally, some political party is thinking about education and health at the priority level. Good governance and institutional reforms are also the part of the plan
PTI’s plan has failed to address the question of settling the country’s debt. As we all know that going to the IMF has some difficult conditions.
On the other hand, the vital question of foreign policy has also been left without any specific answer. In aftermaths of presenting the agenda, Imran said that foreign policy is something very important and it should be made with the help and input from all the stakeholders concerned. This statement does explain the seriousness of a party which is eyeing the power. Another vital point is job creation and house building projects. As per the economic experts, this plan seems hilarious — a nation with 91 billion dollar debt will not be able to do such a thing.
However, PTI is relying on good economic governance. The institutional reforms and good governance are the two relevant things which PTI is focusing on. For instance the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), and Pakistan Steel Mills are their exclusive targets. According to them, they can be made profitable with the help of better governance and institutional reforms. Another important thing for which this agenda of 100 days has been criticized is the health and education sector reforms. As per the experts, after the 18th amendment, health and education are the provincial subjects and in case PTI wants to initiate any kind of reforms, it should need support at the provincial level.
The PTI’s manifesto cum agenda or vice versa, seems interesting. Finally, some political party is thinking about education and health at the priority level. Good governance and institutional reforms are also the part of the plan. There are some clear technical flaws in the agenda, but the outlook does suggest that something different will be done. Yes it is true that PTI hasn’t been able to completely alter KP, but they have taken some good initiatives. Their foremost political product to sell is KP police as a model of institutional reform. One has to accept that regardless of some flaws, KP police and its officers are enjoying more institutional autonomy than any other police department in the nation. There are flaws which need to be addressed, but the product is far better than many others.
Expecting the unexpected is something dodgy, it is like living in dreams. But this is what Pakistanis have been doing for the last two to three decades; the prime example is believing in the plan to provide Roti, kapra aur makaan. If PTI is able to win the elections, it will have to do something special to survive, the standards are very high and one way or another PTI itself has set these standards. Time will tell about the usefulness of the agenda. But one thing is very clear, this agenda will not be forgotten, so from here, either PTI will take off and never look back or it will fly for the one last time.
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Published in Daily Times, May 29th 2018.