By Waqas Muhammad Ali

Pakistan is gearing to vote on July 25, 2018 for its next government which may lead either to single party’s majority rule or coalition government to come into power. The ruling party, PML-N, completed its five year term spanning across 2013-18 which led to a 10 year consecutive civilian rule in Pakistan. During this time, the ruling party’s presidential authority transferred from ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the ex-chief minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif. The continuity of democracy as well as political activism and awareness is a positive sign for Pakistan. PML-N promised to address three main problems: Electricity, terrorism and economic problems. PTI is campaigning on slogan of ‘Naya Pakistan: Do Nahi, Aik Pakistan.’ Chairman PPP, Bilawal Bhutto, has created a new slogan for second generation: ‘Ilm, sehat, sab ko makaan.’

The aim of the article is to provide brief outline of the provisions and proposals in the manifestos of the three main political parties. The purpose is to instill awareness and interest in the minds of voters through reading the ‘manifestos’ in order to exhibit the inherent importance for whom they will vote as their representatives – which reflect the status of the party. The contributions will strengthen democracy and Pakistan which should be appreciated through reading manifestos and asking the representatives through feedback for e.g. the pareto principle – the manner how political parties will adopt and implement strategies and programs.

The manifesto of PPP revolves around the legacy of Benazir Bhutto and her commitment to democracy, inclusiveness and reconciliation. The preamble addresses a question why ‘incumbent government could not serve people,’ terming how PPP steered first generation towards constitution, political, institutional and social protection and argues that the momentum has been lost. PPP’s priority for second generation will be social democracy and people’s democracy. The pledge matches with president PML-N’s statement: Poverty reduction, Health & Education for all and Empowerment. Similarly, PTI’s pledge is to empower the people, who are the true wealth of Pakistan.

PPP’s manifesto begins with its stand for ‘freeing people from hunger and helplessness (Freedom from hunger, health care for all: expansion & linking up, mother & child support program, Right to housing in inclusive & sustainable communities: Apni galiyan Apna Ghar, Water & Sanitation, Social protection to poverty reduction. The strategic approach for identification and solution are remarkable, which depicts PPP’s stance has advanced from basic to peripheral sphere as per pareto (20:80) principle.

PTI’s manifesto begins with an impressive account of presentation of its achievements and performance followed by explaining in detail where it will assert its maximum effort in terms of priority i.e. ‘Transforming Governance’ (Bring accountability to core of government, empower people at grass roots through local government, depoliticise and strengthen police, reform the criminal justice system and provide speedy access to justice, Reform Civil service, institutionalise e-governance, facilitate delivery through legislative reform: right to information, reform government procurement, ensure freedom of press).

The relative importance of delving into the insights offered regarding the underscored priorities which are highlighted in contextual terms as per the respective manifestos is extensively depicted in the provisions of the framework, which instills the element of being easily realistic and further gauges the effectiveness through lens of principle approach adopted in terms of ‘check and balance’ – both, within party and in comparison to other parties. PTI and PPP were the ruling parties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, respectively. The Federal and the largest province was ruled by PML-N. PTI focused on accountability, PPP focused on reconciliation and PML-N priorities were identifiably similar to its issues recognised as challenges in their manifesto i.e. ‘sustainable economic growth’ to fulfill its ‘slogan promise.’

Dealing with all these three issues, respectively, leads to empowerment of the masses. Similar to PPP’s claim of re-relecting it to power in order to resume the vision, the PML-N emphasises the continuity of political will by declaring that two of biggest issues of 2013 no longer exist – i.e. no power shortage nor volatile security situation. At federal level, the third issue ‘Iqtesaadi badhaali,’ was dependent on the first two issues. In terms of practicality, the federal government had to ensure intergovernmental cooperation, coordination and collaboration (from federal to provincial level). The credit for devolution goes to PPP but PML-N continued its practice, though 8th National Finance Commission Award is pending despite the fact that FATA Reforms were passed. This also highlights that people will vote for performance while refusing to be part of any undemocratic endeavors. The possibility stemmed from occurrence of events which made it necessary to ensure continuity and, the necessity for existence of platforms which laid basis for continued growth and infrastructural development – which will reverse the decline and put on Pakistan on the path to progress by now laying out plans as revealed in the manifestos, which allocate prioritisation to many other pressing emergencies such as education/Human development, water scarcity/food security and as well as alleviate poverty i.e. third challenge as per PML-N manifesto.

PML-N starts its manifesto with comprehensive pointers under section of ‘sustainable economic growth’ (Economy: Unleashing employment through growth, Structure of Economy: prosperity and protection of poor, Taxation: financing development, CPEC: game changer,Agriculture: Efficiency and Value addition – the pathway to Farmer’s prosperity, Information Technology: Digitising Pakistan, Tourism: Brand PAKISTAN). This section features the measures taken regarding the turn around and strengthening of Pakistan economy(performance in 2013-14) and how to deal with the current position and upcoming situation. This specific section in the manifesto deals with the prerequisite and prequel plan to all the sequel programs i.e. basis to the means and ends in terms of strategies, plans, goals for modern structure. The target is to foster culture of innovation, competitive advantage, reducing regulatory burden and providing markets a boost to create a world-class, socio-economic infrastructure.

The reason to set economic performance as benchmark is that it helps in social uplift, which forms as precise function of Government i.e. to ensure feasible and accessible sources to programs and initiatives – as per agendas. This enables to determine whether Pakistan is in a better or worse place off since 2013.

Furthermore, the process involves evaluating current situation i.e. how the ruling party in the Federal and provincial machinery performed along with their contribution and work in terms of building state’s capacity and capability to harness citizens engagement as part of ‘good governance.’ Hence, it is imperatively and inherently important to stress upon the facts and figures rather than promises. As part of federal, the responsibility laid on shoulders of PML-N more than PTI or PPP. The path ensued and road map taken should be of utmost significance in this regard, which are dealt with in the manifesto to great extent. The programs of PML-N, PTI and PPP can be compared since a similar format is followed but with different content and context.

The PML-N manifesto has manifested its program as pointers in two columns : Performance (2013-18) and Promise/ proposals (2018-23). The sub-sections comprised as different headings suggest the multi-pronged strategy to usher in prosperity and progress through its claim of radical agendas. The comparison in terms of previous and new agendas helps to establish its position from where it will exert efforts and achieve results. PTI’s manifesto in terms of economic program identifies 13 ways for purpose contributing to inclusive economic growth. These 13 sub-sections with pointers establish the method to be adopted to achieve the goals through improved means, effective goals and efficient achievements. Following are the sub-sections in which layouts are explained in detail: Reform FBR, Create 10 million jobs and strengthen labour market, implement policy framework to build 5 million houses, make Pakistan business-friendly, revive manufacturing and facilitate rapid growth of SME’s, Transform key economic institutions, Fix Pakistan’s energy challenge, Ensure CPEC translates into game changer, Enhance access to Finance for citizens and industry, Boost the tourism industry, Turnaround IT sector to build a knowledge economy, Strengthen International trade and revitalise textile sector and boost exports.

However, PPP’s manifesto is different and distinct in comparison to PML-N and PTI, respectively, in terms of conceptual and framework. The 3rd section i.e. ‘Economic Justice: Rebuilding an economy that works for all.’ The ideas which are propagated should be studied and worked upon as a token of appreciation for providing good approach. Interesting points are put forward as claims for immediate measures for course correction on basis of economic re-structuring with emphasis on social initiatives. Following are the points of actionable plan listed: Consensus building for a Basic National Economic agenda (Exports & Public finance), Zarai Inqilab, Mechanisms through Benazir Kissan card and similar packages, Benazir Women Agricultural program, Water (Augmentation),Restructuring Trade and Industry ( Industrial and Trade policy), Energy sector reforms (diversifying, prioritising, revamping and nationalising), development of Natural resources, infrastructure policy framework w.r.t. IT, digitisation, SOE reforms, labourpolicy, women economic empowerment, Taxation: measures and resource mobilisation and lastly, sustainability and resilience (adaptation and mitigation). The main purpose of this section is to address the problem of unsustainability i.e. ‘stop-start-stop’ approach. PPP’s valuable suggestions for crisis management is positive input to constructive engagement. PPP’s historical record in terms of strengthening federation is impressive as it initiated the anti-terrorism campaigns after coming into power in 2008 and remarkably passed the 7th NFC award as part of devolution.

In totality, the three main political parties have equally divided their manifesto in to 6-7 sections. PPP unveiled its manifesto on 28th June, PML-N on 5th July, followed by PTI on 9th July. Pakistan has moved from agriculture (primary sector economy) to secondary sector (manufacturing and production) and is gearing up to enter the initial phase of tertiary based economy. Despite the advancement, the gap in socio-economic re-structuring remains in terms of gap in institutional, legal and political empowerment. All three political parties being observed do have an in-depth record and analysis based on research and preferences in terms of policies regarding Youth, Water and agriculture i.e. either parallel along with an Economic agendas or rather sequentially. The link is important as it determines its constructive agreement with sections of the society and institutions for agendas of inclusive development.

The election campaign of PML-N started with the visit of Party President Shahbaz Sharif to Karachi. Mr Sharif met with representatives of different sections of society. His engagement revolved around the explanation of PML-N’s performance in Punjab and FederalGovernment, which can identified in three sections of PML-N manifesto: (1) World class infrastructure (Electricity: More power to poor, Petroleum and Natural resources: energise progress, Water: More for every drop, Transport: Pakistan on the move). (2) Caring – Human Development (Education and Higher Education: Universal access and quality and bringing a knowledge revolution?, Research: Innovation- driven Pakistan, Health & Environment. (3) Inclusive development (Religious Affairs, Women, minority groups) and Legal reforms. The legal reforms section of PML-N Manifesto aims at strengthening the federation, which is also widely and extensively discussed in the manifestos of PTI and PPP.

PTI’s chapter 6 is section about ‘Revolutionising Social Services which corresponds to its sequential response after addressing the preliminary and emergency issues, which are mentioned across 2nd-5th section: Transform Governance, Strengthen Federation, Inclusive Economic Growth and Uplift Agriculture/Build Dams & Conserve water. PPP draws its line around the base of ‘Freedom for all people’ and then combines the listed preferences as per requirements to embolden the spirit of democracy and devolution. The peripheral for second generation are listed in manifesto as follows: Open opportunities for children and youth, Rebuild the economy, Deepen Democracy, Secure peace and lastly, to reclaim our rightful place in the world. As Shahbaz Sharif intends to keenly present his PML-N’s performance in federal and Punjab in response to another contender Imran Khan, PPP also has stood to pledge its contributive space. The entry of Bilawal Bhutto as second generation is an additional stint for which PML-N and PTI should accurately take into account the challenges. Both, Shehbaz Sharif and Imran Khan, are the contenders for seat of Prime Minister of Pakistan.

It is imperative to compare the progress in terms of Health & Education reforms and programs. An exemplary way to effectively evaluate is to cover stock take meetings. Shehbaz Sharif held a stock take conference at the provincial level on 22nd March 2018. The purpose was to evaluate and highlight the performance of Punjab Government. This is an exemplary method for focused research on objectives, means and goals. The Managing partner of Department of International Development (DFID) Michael BARBER briefed regarding achievements, through the explanation of progress as per road map developed in recent years. Reports from independent researchers, observers and analysts on individual and institutional level were presented as evidence to present that there has been actual change and much progress in Punjab. Joanna Reed, DFID Chief, stressed to continue the roadmap.

According to PMIU report, ‘The stock take is a meeting chaired by the Punjab Chief Minister on a quarterly basis in which the progress of Health, Education, Water and Solid Waste Management sectors is tracked against a set of pre-determined targets. The stock-take reviewed the achievements and progress of the Government of Punjab in meeting the targets in the Health and Education sectors, during the last five year tenure of the PML-N government.’

The report of Program Implementation and Monitoring Unit (PMIU) further states: The Stock takes are an important part of the Road map process, where progress and issues are discussed in a transparent, honest and constructive manner. Important decisions are then taken with inputs from the government, the development partners – DFID and others, sector experts and other stakeholders. At the opening of the meetings, the Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif said, “This is a wonderful journey where we will reach our destination and empower our youth.” Punjab Health Reforms Road map started in April, 2014.

Since then, chief minister has been reviewing the progress on the Road map through quarterly Stock-takes. The chief minister’s Education Reform’s Road map is the province’s flagship education reform program. The Road map was established in December 2010. Since then, the Chief Minister has personally led more than 50 stock-takes and review meetings to assess the progress of the reform. The Punjab Information Technology board assisted in implementing plans of digitising governmental institution in Punjab for e.g. Patwar system computerised, all police stations computerised, no ghost schools or teachers or enrollment, Doctor & Nurse availability in THQ/DHQ hospital s at 85%, Vaccinations at 90%, No fake stamp papers, Plan & e-rozgar, e-khidmat centers and e-learn.

Following were key areas of discussion in Health Stocktake: (a) Vaccination, (b) Safe deliveries, (c) Primary Health Care, (d) Hepatitis, Nutrition and (5) Secondary Health care. Key information across four priorities for education reforms: (1) Enrollment, (2) Quality, (3) Schools and Teachers (4) Public-Private Partnership.

The practices adopted by ex-Chief Minister Punjab are brilliant as they contribute greatly to progress and prosperity, which speaks volumes about his experience. PPP claims that its vision has met a stop and has to be re-elected to fulfill its promises through second generation. The other contender, PTI’s Imran Khan, made Pervez Khattak the Chief Minister from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where it came into power for the first time. Who will be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan and which party will attain majority seats or will we see a coalition government? Whoever comes into power, it has to be Pakistan which should win in the end as people need leaders.

This article was originally published in The Nation

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