KARACHI: Unveiling its manifesto for general elections, the Pakistan Muslim League (Functional) on Tuesday pledged to ensure supremacy of the constitution, rule of law and better life for everyone in a prosperous Sindh and a developed Pakistan.
Introduction of a new local government system, better homeland security, national status for all regional languages, no restrictions on admissions of students from the interior of Sindh to educational institutions of Karachi, revival of the circular railway and monorail introduction in the city, free health facilities to citizens above the age of 65, and increasing the educational and health budget to six per cent of gross domestic product are some key action points mentioned in the election manifesto 2013 of the PML-F.
Highlighting salient features of the manifesto at a press conference at the party secretariat on Tuesday, Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah, who was the chairman of the PML-F manifesto committee, said that the party was opposed to the Kalabagh dam and supported construction of the Bhasha dam as well as small water reservoirs. He also pledged that Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal and Thal Canal would not be allowed to open without consent of Sindh and Balochistan.
Mr Shah added that the party would ensure restoration of Bahawalpur status, cancellation of dubious contracts over coastal islands, introduction of a new traffic police system similar to the motorway police in major cities, including Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur, and a solid waste management programme in Karachi.
He also pledged on-the-job training programmes, elimination of illegal judicial system such as Jirgas and Punchayats, legislation to eliminate violence against women and girls and steps to eliminate forced conversion of members of a religious minority.
Mr Shah said by introducing ‘homeland security’ a special force would be formed to improve law and order at the national level. He added that all no-go areas would be eliminated and a counterterrorism authority would be established at the provincial level.
He said reduction in power and gas unit cost and improvement in billing system, increased reliance on coal and other alternative energy sources, resolution of circular debt issue, cash flow management and reduction in electricity line losses through better governance were some other actions promised in the party manifesto.
Mr Shah said merit and transparency would be ensured in appointments and transfers in all institutions. While in order to provide relief to workers, their minimum wages would be doubled and its implementation in the private sector would also be ensured, he said. Constitutional protection would be provided in jobs for poverty-stricken areas by introducing special quotas, major steps would be taken to create jobs to eliminate unemployment, database would be established for skilled and semi-skilled labours, a master plan covering beautification plans, sewerage management, roads development and water supply would be developed at divisional headquarters level, he added.
He said working conditions would be ensured in accordance with ILO standards. Also, he promised mandatory registration of all labourers in formal work settings especially home-based work and agricultural labour.
He promised that the rights of Pakistani farmers would be protected before signing a free trade agreement with India. Besides, farmers would be provided subsidy on fertilizer, seeds and on diesel as being given to agriculturists in India, price support mechanism would be devised for wheat, rice, cotton and sugarcane farmers to ensure appropriate pricing and crop insurance and health cover for farmers and registration of farm workers would be ensured so that they could also benefit from labour laws, he added.
Mr Shah, who is former chief minister and speaker of the assembly, said career counselling would be introduced at schools, agronomy subject would be made compulsory in schools in rural areas, computer science and information technology subjects would be introduced in seminaries syllabus, admissions in medical colleges would be entirely carried out on a merit basis and self-finance schemes would be eliminated to ensure maximum number of seats of deserving students. Students passing college exams in grade A would be awarded Tablet computers, girls education would be encouraged by initiating scholarships for deserving students, he added.
Entrepreneurship incentive programmes, investors’ interest and design mentorship programmes, cottage industry development programmes would also be introduced to improve economy, Mr Shah said. Besides, approval of government borrowings from assemblies, reduction in perks of civil and military bureaucrats, ministers and lawmakers would be ensured.
To control inflation, sales tax would be set to five per cent flat non-refundable, he said, adding that thousands of industries that were closed down over the past few years would be revived.
Earlier, Sindh PML-F general secretary Imtiaz Ahmad Shaikh said the manifesto would prove a milestone to make Sindh a model prosperous province by implementing every point of it as per tradition of Pagara.
Mohammad Ali Durrani expressed gratitude to the PML-F leadership on behalf of the people of Bahawalpur and said that like people of Balochistan, people of Bahawalpur were waiting for better days. He expressed the hope that under the dynamic leadership of Pir Pagara, the country would attain prosperity.
On the occasion, Jam Madad Ali, Mr Durrani, Haji Khuda Bux Rajar, Pirzada Yasir Sain, Nusrat Seher Abbasi, Syeda Marvi Rashdi, Pappu Shah, Qasim Soomro, Kamran Tessori, Dr Taj and others were also present.