The PPP appears to have rediscovered its mojo. Not only is it the first party to have released its manifesto — it has, for all intents and purposes, returned to its socialist roots. Indeed, there is a little something there for everyone. At least in terms of avowals.The title itself is a reminder of the sacrifices that the PPP has made for democracy’s sake: “BB ka wada nibhana hai Pakistan bachana hai” (We have to fulfil BB’s promise and save Pakistan). In short, the country must be liberated from the clutches of the fear of hunger, thirst and helplessness. Indeed, in a nod to escalating inflation, the new and improved slogan has been updated from the traditional “bread, clothing and shelter” to include “education, health and jobs for everyone”. Yet the point is that these are all issues currently facing Pakistan; indeed, much of the world, both in the industrialised north as well as here in the Global South. Moreover, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari belongs to a new generation that knows it must appear as inclusive as possible to woo over the youth vote that Imran Khan has long claimed to have in the bag. Thus the PPP manifesto is careful to define the phrase “all our people” as “men, women and transgender people” and “people of all faiths, ethnicities, provinces and regions”.In essence, what is being showcased is a public pledge to position human rights centre stage by prioritising: prevention of the misuse of the blasphemy law; reviewing and reforming the definition of terrorism under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997; protection of journalists and human rights defenders; protection of transgender and transgender identity; protection against religious discrimination in the education system; and criminalising enforced disappearances. While this looks good on paper, all bets are still off as to whether this is enough to secure a PPP victory beyond Sindh. Many pundits have already ruled out the PPP securing the Punjab. On the grounds that the battle there is being fought between the PTI and the PMLN; with certain mainstreamed extremist groups being promoted to further undercut the Sharifs’ traditional vote-bank. Indeed, the PPP has already lost a number of electables to Khan’s party; with disgruntled PTI workers jumping ship to run as independents rather than taking a chance on the Bhutto dynasty. The latter’s hope therefore rests in presenting a third way; a real and viable alternative to the political conservatism of the Punjab. And this is exactly what the PPP has tried to come up with in the form of its progressive agenda. Yet it may not be enough.In reality, it is hard to judge a party mandate on merit alone. For the nature of the political beast is such that a comparative prism is always required. Thus it is hoped that the incoming regime will do the needful in terms of setting a date whereby all manifestos will be published on the very same day: ideally, a good three months before polls. After all, in the absence of informed debate lie mere sound bites. The Pakistani people deserve better. * Published in Daily Times, June 30th 2018.