Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Monday unveiled his party’s much-awaited manifesto for the 2018 general elections.
With the launch of the manifesto, Pakistan’s three major political parties have finally put out their plans, aims and promises out there for the scrutiny of the voter.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was the first to launch their manifesto as PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto promised progressive policies and extended the Roti, Kapra, aur Makan slogan by pledging guaranteed access to quality healthcare services, and education in addition to the old promises of food security, and secure housing in sustainable and inclusive communities.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) followed fast on the heels of their old rival, offering a manifesto as heavy on the symbolism as it had an emphasis on continuing the good work they had carried out in the past five years on the infrastructure, development and economic fronts.
The PTI, the only part of the three yet to see a federal government of its own, made fresh promises without the baggage of having to explain its performance over the past five years, even if it did draw heavily from the model implemented in their provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
The PML-N in their manifesto have made their line clear: vote ko izzat doh, khidmat ko vote doh (respect the vote, vote for service). That is the official slogan that the league has picked up for the upcoming polls.
The manifesto was launched by party President Shehbaz Sharif with great fanfare, perhaps in an attempt to fight off the clouds cast over the party by the then ongoing Nawaz Sharif fiasco in court.
One of the key promises of the PML-N manifesto has been the strengthening of democracy. While the statements backing this are vague, the intent behind them is crystal clear.
The message sent out by Mian Nawaz to be read at the launch was full of mentions of harmful dharnas and political conspiracies.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has also made the strengthening of democracy an integral part of his party’s manifesto, joining the PML-N in their intent. The PPP went the extra mile asking that democracy be deepened and freedom of speech be given its due place.
Bilawal Bhutto also extended his party’s traditional message of Roti, Kapra, aur Makan to include the additional appendage of sehat, taleem, sab ko aam. Bilawal’s aims in this election and as a politician are clear: continuing the legacy of his late mother. That has been captured in the manifesto’s catchphrase: BB ka wada nibhana hai, Pakistan bachana hai (we must fulfil BB’s promise and save Pakistan).
Imran Khan took the less trodden path, avoiding political centrism while declaring his road to the old promise of a “Naya Pakistan”. The PTI chairman wishes to turn Pakistan into an Islamic welfare state — a model he claims is what is essentially being followed in Scandinavian countries. This has always been Khan’s opus, and the manifesto once again grounds the PTI in its original religious-conservative mindset.
What the parties are promising:
The PML-N has come out with a strong manifesto. Their points have included regular talk of economic uplift, with particular emphasis on the development of the IT sector in Pakistan. As examples of their performance between 2013-18, the League has presented the Arfa Software Technology Park as an example, claiming that they now plan on making the field a multibillion-dollar industry in Pakistan.
Also chief on the League’s agenda is international standard infrastructure and the setup to make cheap electricity. They claim to already have produced 11,000 MW of electricity in addition to mammoth projects like the Orange Line Metro Train, saying that such work and their rozgar programmes will create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
For this, they have fallen back to their core beliefs by putting a particular focus on consolidating growth by expanding their industrial base.
The other major points of their manifesto include peace within and without, and with little detail on this, indicate that their foreign and anti-terror policies will not change particularly. The other major focus has been the promotion of regional trade, and the manifesto copiously quotes the CPEC project among the party’s successes.
The PPP, on the other hand, has chosen to micromanage the country’s problems, coming out swinging with the issue of food security first and foremost. Bilawal Bhutto even promised ration cards in his ‘Bhook mittao programme’.
They have also claimed that they will promote economic growth, but with a special focus on healthcare and education.
In a seeming hint towards the problem plaguing not just Sindh but also Punjab, they have also made access to clean drinking water a major point of their manifesto as part of their food security promise.
Also in their promise regarding jobs, the PPP has said that it will work towards making sure that women find no barriers in entering the workforce and are, in fact, encouraged and assisted into making their way into the workforce.
The PTI has made the core of its manifesto not around infrastructure and the promise of economic expansion, but regarding the strengthening of institutions and the federation.
The manifesto plans on embarking on a rapid move to eradicate corruption by implementing a new policing system along the lines of what they claim they have achieved in KP.
Also among their promises is provincial restructuring along administrative lines in south Punjab. This includes, in particular, a plan to give a complete overhaul to Karachi’s current administrative system as well as orchestrating a smooth merger of FATA with KP.
Also in allusion to their successes, the PTI has made environmental protection a big part of their manifesto, claiming they will implement a billion tree tsunami style project all across Pakistan.