Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — a true representative of its people with a strong belief in social justice, economic equality, empowerment of marginalised sections of society, democratic values and norms — came up with a manifesto for the next general elections. The manifesto truly addresses the multiple challenges and issues confronting this state of ours. Manifestos define a political party and demonstrate its seriousness in addressing the major issues of a country at the policy level. PPP has become the first party to formally presented its manifesto ahead of the general elections being held in Pakistan on July 25. The manifesto is guided by an extension of PPP’s original slogan: “Roti, kapra aur makaan; ilm, sehat, sab ko kaam” (Bread, clothing and shelter; education, health and jobs for everyone). Today, Pakistan stands at the crossroads of either sliding into total disarray or moving forward to what our country’s ancestors dreamt of — a prosperous and developed Pakistan. PPP, right from its inception has been striving to achieve what the ancestors of the country wanted. In the face of many odds and conspiracies to eliminate PPP from the political scene, the party managed to survive and is now poised to secure a major victory in the next polls. In anticipation of its victory across the country, a vibrant and progressive manifesto was the need of the hour to guide the party about the tasks that lie ahead. PPP’s manifesto starts with the slogan: “BB Ka Waada Nibhana Hai, Pakistan Bachana Hai” (The promise to Benazir must be fulfilled and the country must be saved). It reminds us about the great woman’s vision and her struggle to make Pakistan a true democratic, progressive and economically developed country. The manifesto addresses almost all the issues that the nation is confronted by today, and pledges to curtail hunger, rebuild the country’s economy and foster harmony between different institutions. When the party speaks about freeing all people from hunger and helplessness it suggests economic equality for all. Pakistan is a country where economic disparities are fast increasing between haves and have-nots. The economic inequalities are not only giving rise to a “lot of hungry and malnourished or poorly nourished people” but it is also creating social problems. What does the PPP continue to work hard for? A strong democracy with the participation of all segments of society irrespective of cast, creed, faith and colour — this is the ultimate goal. That is what the PPP is striving for PPP did the right thing when it announced that it would launch a “Bhook Mitao” (Hunger Eradication) programme. To sustain this programme, the party intends to carry out protective legislation so no government can abolish it through an executive order. This is one of the revolutionary steps that the party will be taking to eradicate hunger, along with many other issues. Building a vibrant and robust economy is another challenge that the PPP aims to tackle through prudent policies. Pakistan’s economy confronts many challenges on external and domestic fronts, especially the record foreign loans which the previous government took to register an artificial economic growth. The manifesto envisages short-term and long-term measures to improve the national economy. Water scarcity is a grave issue the country is faced with these days and the manifesto addresses this issue through a holistic approach ranging from the construction of water reservoirs to conservation and efficient use of water, as well as water quality management. Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari represents the youth of the country and under his guidelines PPP particularly focused on this segment of society and pledged to not only provide them with opportunities for quality education but also to create jobs. The party values this segment of society for strengthening democracy. That is why it promised to lift the ban on student unions to provide them the amicable environment needed to become future political leaders of the country. To regain Pakistan’s rightful place in the global community is the cornerstone of PPP’s manifesto for the next general elections. Unfortunately, the country was cornered in the previous regime when even in the region, neighbouring countries developed reservations about Pakistan. The manifesto aims to strike a rational balance when it comes to relations with foreign countries. And this is the need of the hour due to our domestic situation and our economic interests. Last, but not the least, a strong democracy and flourishing democratic institutions are what PPP always boasts about. This is the very reason that the manifesto places and emphasis upon a strong democratic Pakistan, espousing progressive values. It rightly speaks about a strong democracy being the panacea to eradicate extremist tendencies from our society. Strong democratic credentials would also help cement relations between federating units, which remained at loggerheads due to dictatorial and aristocratic regimes. The PPP, which led the passage of the 1973 Constitution, always brought the federating units together and aims to do so in the future. A strong democracy with the participation of all segments of society irrespective of cast, creed, faith and colour is the ultimate goal. That is what the PPP is striving for. The writer is a freelance columnist Published in Daily Times, July 3rd 2018.