The PTI manifesto for election 2018, much like the rallying refrain of the party leader these days, is loudly calling for drastic change. The main slogans of ‘the road to a new Pakistan’ are justice and humanity, building on the 2013 document whose salient points stressed education and health, as forms of social justice.
The new manifesto is a different ball game and sets extremely ambitious targets. It envisages some 10m jobs and no less than 5m low-cost housing units. It vows to bring back to Pakistan looted wealth and revive at least 100 industries.
The document ticks economy as the most crucial area for whosoever comes to power. In a significant statement of intent that will have a direct effect on politics in the area, the 2018 document backs the creation of a new province in southern Punjab.
Among its other pledges is the goal to transform Karachi, but it is more careful in its choice of words when it comes Balochistan, although it finds it safe enough to ‘champion’ reconciliation in this most complicated province.
Quite in the manner in which it is often credited with bringing the professional class to assert their presence in the affairs of the state, the PTI says it will have experts from abroad to look after the construction of the 5m houses it seeks to build.
The manifesto also emphasises the green revolution and speaks of the party’s penchant for tree plantation as a statement of its intent to improve the environment. This is obviously a tall order, especially when the PTI is up against a PML-N model which can be accused of many things but can never be faulted for inaction.
The fight against corruption is central to the existence of the PTI as a party to power politics in the country. Much of its political message revolves around the need to uproot the ghosts of the past that plague the system.
In the 2013 manifesto, the PTI had promised to end corruption within three months. However, evidence that targets are sometimes impossible to meet was provided in the speech that Imran Khan made during the launch of the 2018 manifesto on Monday.
He admitted that the PTI was unable to evolve a system of accountability in KP, where the party has just completed a five-year term in power, and where some of its initiatives, such as the ones in the infrastructure sector, have come in for criticism over a lack of urgency and direction.
The loud, uncompromising tone of the manifesto will ensure an even stricter monitoring of the implementation of the ambitious plans. Mr Khan must have no illusions. By his claims he has ensured that the whole country is watching him.
Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2018
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