Tracking Naya Pakistan — Three years into power, here's where PTI stands on some of its promises
Weeks before the general elections 2018, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan — now also the prime minister — unveiled his party’s much-awaited manifesto that carried an elaborate plan to transform the country into “Naya Pakistan” — a term that doubled as his party’s slogan through their successful campaign and beyond.
After the PTI, with the help of its allies, formed the government in August 2018, Dawn.com launched the Naya Pakistan Tracker to chart the progress on PTI’s promises on a yearly basis.
With two years remaining in Prime Minister Imran’s mandated five-year term, the progress on the commitments outlined in his party’s manifesto present a mixed bag.
Dawn.com’s tracker has found that the PTI-led government has launched a number of projects and also set in place the instruments required for the fulfillment of some of its promises at the national, and in some cases, even provincial levels.
However, progress on some promises is still stuck in its initial stages or has been marred with delays.
Here Dawn.com highlights some of the important promises made by the PTI in its manifesto and where they currently stand.
PM Imran, during his election campaign, had vowed to “ensure a greater stake for overseas Pakistanis”. Among a number of goals set to achieve this promise was ensuring voting rights for overseas Pakistanis and developing financial instruments that create attractive investment opportunities for them.
Right to vote
Just a month after the PTI came to power, overseas Pakistanis were given the opportunity to vote for the first time in Pakistan’s electoral history. However, this was done by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and based on a Supreme Court order.
The ruling party, meanwhile, has also been pushing for the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
In July 2019, Prime Minister Imran directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to develop a “comprehensive programme” to give expatriates the right to vote. The premier and his government have reiterated their commitment to this promise on multiple occasions.
On May 9 of this year, the government promulgated the Elections (Second Amendment) Ordinance 2021, thus, authorising and binding the ECP to give overseas Pakistanis their right to vote and to procure EVMs. This ordinance, however, is set to expire next month, with the government seeking an extension in its constitutional life.
Meanwhile, on June 10 of 2021, the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2020 was passed by the National Assembly amid the opposition's outcry. It was then tabled in the upper house on Oct 16, where it has not been passed yet.
PM Imran’s party has emphasised the need to grant overseas Pakistanis the right to vote before next elections in 20223.
Despite work done, the promise, however, is not yet complete, largely due to the hesitance of the opposition parties to include overseas Pakistan in the electoral rolls. We rated it as "partially complete".
Digital incentives for ‘biggest asset’
“They (overseas Pakistanis) are Pakistan’s biggest asset [...],” said Prime Minister Imran on April 29 while launching two digital incentives for the expatriate community.
In order to attract investment from overseas Pakistanis, the PTI has introduced a number of projects that focus specifically on this promise.
On January 31, 2019, the premier launched the Pakistan Banao Certificate — a dollar-denominated diaspora bond aimed at attracting investment from overseas Pakistanis to help strengthen the national economy.
In September of last year, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) launched the Roshan Digital Account (RDA) for non-resident Pakistanis to enable them to remotely open bank accounts in the country through online digital branches without physically visiting banks. By the end of July, the inflows through RDA had reached $1.87billion.
Read: The RDA challenge
In November 2020, the SBP launched a savings scheme — the Naya Pakistan Certificate — offering significantly higher interest rates compared to those prevailing in most of the developed and developing economies.
Facilitating overseas Pakistanis, PM Imran’s government also provided incentives such as tax exemptions and simplified biometric verification. Investments in property, tourism and the construction sector were also encouraged.
This makes it one of only two promises that have been completed by the government.
One of the ruling party’s promises before forming the government was to “spearhead the creation of a South Punjab province on administrative lines”. Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, in October 2018, had said that “the dream would come true” during PTI’s tenure.
In 2018, the party started off on an active footing, setting up the Executive Council on Creation of South Punjab province and forming a committee to develop political consensus over the creation of the new province.
First step towards South Punjab province
Over the past three years, however, much of the progress towards creating the new province has been focused on setting up the South Punjab secretariat, described by the party as the first step towards establishing the new federating unit.
Editorial: South Punjab province
Differences emerged over whether the sub-secretariat would be set up in Bahawalpur or Multan, with PTI stalwart Jahangir Tareen admitting that there were divergent opinions within the party over the location. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had announced that the prime minister would make the final decision on the location of the secretariat after meeting representatives from the areas.
On June 30, 2020, the additional chief secretary (ACS) and additional inspector general (AIG) Punjab were formally appointed. The secretariat was to cover the divisions of Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan and the civil servants would be split between Multan and Bahawalpur.
Calling it a “major milestone” in the establishment of the South Punjab province, Qureshi, on Sept 1, 2020, announced the posting of high-level bureaucrats to South Punjab for a fully functional secretariat.
On April 26, Prime Minister Imran laid the foundation stone of the secretariat in Multan, with Chief Minister Buzdar saying the foundation stone of the secretariat in Bahawalpur would also be laid in future.
On June 7, the foreign minister requested Buzdar to ensure that officials were present at the South Punjab secretariat and to designate an institution to investigate their conduct.
Building political consensus
Apart from the establishment of secretariats, PM Imran in April approved a plan for the development of South Punjab as a separate administrative zone. He also gave consent to amend the Punjab Civil Servants Act of 1974 and to carry out necessary legislation to dedicate 32 per cent job quota for South Punjab. In June, however, the Punjab Cabinet Committee on Legislative business deferred the proposal for the job quota.
FM Qureshi has also called on PPP and PML-N politicians from South Punjab to help the government establish the new province and form political consensus in this regard.
“You say you want a South Punjab province. If you truly want this, give us proof. Join the government, don’t just make statements, step forward practically and assist us,” he said in March 2020.
Days earlier, the foreign minister had announced that a bill for the creation of the new province would be tabled in the National Assembly.
With a lot of work yet to to be done, this promise is still "in progress".
“We want to make Karachi the urban jewel of Pakistan,” the PTI stated in its manifesto, while announcing a number of steps towards transforming the metropolis.
Among the party’s commitments was to improve the capacity of Karachi’s mass transit system, develop a desalination plant, provide clean drinking water and a crackdown against the city’s water mafia.
During a visit to Karachi in March 2019, PM Imran announced a Rs162bn development project for the city. Of the 18 proposed projects, 10 were related to the development of the public transport network in Karachi and seven to the water and sewerage infrastructure.
On Sept 5, 2020, the premier unveiled a Rs1.1 trillion package for Karachi’s transformation. He visited the metropolis last week and reviewed progress on five of those projects, which are a part of the Karachi Transformation Plan.
But despite all the rhetoric, the PTI government, which won a sizeable mandate from the port city, has yet to deliver on many of its promises that they championed before coming into power.
Providing water — blame game and delays
Prime Minister Imran had announced the installation of a desalination plant for Karachi on his maiden visit to the city. However, the plant has yet to be set up. On Oct 21, 2019, the premier again urged the contracted firm to expedite work.
The ruling party had also vowed to crackdown against the water mafia in the city. While there has been no progress on that commitment, the federal government is working on the Greater Karachi Water Supply Scheme (K-IV), which plans to supply 260 million gallons per day of water to Karachi in phase one.
The K-IV project was originally being handled by the Sindh government. Under an arrangement with the provincial government, the federal government took up the implementation of the project as part of the prime minister’s package for Karachi and directed the Water & Power Development Authority to take over the implementation responsibilities of the scheme.
In June 2020, the centre blamed the PPP-led provincial government for delays with the project.
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said K-IV, the modern Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) and freight corridor projects’ construction would start within the same fiscal year.
The fiscal year has now ended and yet, the citizens of Karachi are still waiting for the promises to materialise.
Work on promises to end Karachi's water mafia and to champion the development of a desalination plant in the metropolis for clean drinking water has "not started" yet.
Karachi’s mass transit system
As part of its promise to enhance the mass transit system in the city, the PTI had vowed to revive the KCR project in three phases. After 21 years, on Nov 19, 2020, the KCR started partial operations on a 14km cleared stretch of the around 55km route of the old KCR.
Meanwhile, in order to ease mass transit in the city, the federal government is also working on Green Line BRT project.
The project was inaugurated by the former government under then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 2016 and was expected to be completed by the end of 2017. However, it is yet to be made operational and has experienced repeated delays.
Components of the project include 22 bus stations, escalators and elevators, a bus depot at Surjani Town and a command and control center in Saddar.
After coming into power, the PTI-led government has, on multiple occasions, provided revised timelines for the project’s launch.
Umar attributed the delay in the facilitation agreement with the provincial government, and branded it a “key hurdle” in making the Green Line project a reality.
In April 2020, the Sindh government signed a facilitation and implementation agreement with the federal government to allow the centre to operate the Green Line BRT project for three years and then transfer it to provincial authorities.
On August 10, Umar said the Green Line BRT project would start in October this year.
We have rated this promise as "in progress".
Addressing a tree plantation ceremony in May, Prime Minister Imran said that “unfortunately” Pakistan was among the ten countries worst hit by climate change and global warming would have a harmful impact on the generations to come if current trends were not reversed.
The premier said his government was “utilising its best efforts to slow down and reverse the harmful impacts of climate change”. This was in line with the documented commitments of his party, which promised to “tackle climate change and champion green growth”.
10 Billion Tree Tsunami
One of the hallmark projects of the PTI government over the past three years has been the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami drive, which was expanded from the Billion Tree Tsunami project launched in KP in 2015.
Under the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami, seasonal plantation drives have been held in various parts of the country, with the target to plant 10 billion saplings by 2023. On June 17, 2020, the premier said that under the programme, 30 million trees had been planted and new nurseries were working at “top speed” to increase the number to one billion by June 2021.
Recently, on August 9, the premier launched “the world’s biggest” Miyawaki urban forest in Lahore.
Falling under the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project, various projects including 20 Plants, 20 Numbers, Billion Tree Honey Initiative and olive tree plantations have been inaugurated. The Green Stimulus Package was also launched in April to extend green cover and provide employment opportunities for the youth, particularly in the wake of Covid-19.
Read: Clean, green Pakistan?
Alongside the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami, the government also initiated the Clean Green Pakistan drive to tackle the challenges of rising pollution and global warming. On November 25, 2019, the Clean Green Pakistan Index was launched, under which 19 cities will compete on certain issues of public interest in the initial stage.
With considerable work done to launch the programme in many parts of the country, we rate the promise as "partially complete".
Increasing protected areas?
The PTI had vowed to increase protected areas from one per cent to 10pc of the coastline. This promise has seen little progress. According to The News, the climate change ministry in June said the promise would be fulfilled by 2023.
According to Geo, the premier has asked for Charna Island to be turned into a marine protected area.
On Aug 31, 2020, President Arif Alvi promulgated the Pakistan Islands Development Authority (PIDA) Ordinance, 2020, which would facilitate the centre to take control of Bundal and Buddo islands in Sindh. This ordinance was, however, reported to have lapsed, amid backlash from the provincial government.
Read: ‘Concrete jungle’: PTI govt’s dream megacity threatens mangroves on Bundal Island
We rate this promise as "in progress".
The PTI planned to initiate a poverty alleviation drive across the poorest districts of Pakistan. In order to do so, it promised to launch special drives to improve access to sanitation and potable water, besides increasing funding for the most impoverished districts through poverty alleviation plans, provide Sehat Insaf Cards to residents and augment the existing Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).
In April 2019, the federal cabinet approved the formation of the Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Division to overcome poverty in the country, adding that incumbent BISP chairperson Sania Nishtar would head the new division as well.
Then in June 2020, it decided to increase the monthly stipend given to poor families registered with the BISP from Rs2,000 to Rs3,000. Nishtar has also worked on the removal of beneficiaries from the BISP database who were “undeserving”.
Ehsaas — building a welfare state
A plan to change the name of BISP was met with the opposition’s resistance, and was subsequently abandoned. The party instead placed it under the umbrella of Ehsaas — the PTI’s flagship social safety programme.
Alongside the BISP, the federal government has worked on various other projects under the Ehsaas programme, which the premier has said will turn Pakistan into a welfare state.
In a report, the World Bank has listed the Ehsaas Emergency Cash programme among the top four social protection interventions globally in terms of the number of people covered. The programme distributed cash among 15 million underprivileged families after they suffered financially due to Covid-19 related lockdowns.
Therefore, the promise to augment the existing BISP programme is "partially complete".
Punjab Aab-e-Pak Authority
When it comes to the provision of clean drinking water, the PTI’s performance was most noticeable in Punjab. A month after the passage of the Punjab Aab-e-Pak Authority Bill 2019 by the provincial assembly in March 2019, the Punjab Aab-e-Pak Authority was established.
Nearly two years later, in January of this year, the first water project under the authority was launched in Chak Jhumra. Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar on August 10 said that 1,500 projects of the authority would be completed this year and seven million people in Punjab will be provided with clean drinking water daily.
Besides, as mentioned earlier, the PTI government is also working on the K-IV project in Karachi.
On the whole, a lot more needs to be done to fulfill this promise, which is why we rate it as "in progress".
Eyes on universal health coverage
In an expansion of a health insurance scheme first launched by the KP government, PM Imran’s federal government expanded the Sehat Sahulat Programme at the national level.
On Feb 4, 2019, Prime Minister Imran launched the nationwide Sehat Insaf Card, which aims to provide free medical treatment to approximately 80 million people. The project currently stands at different stages of progress in various provinces.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the project came when the prime minister, on Oct 28, 2020, said universal health coverage would be offered to everyone in Punjab and KP within a year.
KP, meanwhile, had already offered health cards to every citizen. In January, Punjab followed suit, as per a Samaa report. In Dec 2020, the health card facility was also launched for 1.2m families in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
On February 1, the premier congratulated KP for becoming the first province to provide universal health coverage to all its residents.
The Sehat Insaf Card was also announced in Islamabad, Gilgit Baltistan, tribal districts of KP and Sindh’s Tharparkar district. The Tharparkar centres of the facility, however, were closed due to financial constraints.
Over the past three years, the government has announced extension of coverage of the health card to journalists, Islamabad police, the transgender community, overseas labourers and persons with disabilities.
With a large part of Punjab and the whole of Balochistan still not covered by this scheme, we have rated this promise as "in progress".
In his first address to the nation after being elected, Prime Minister Imran said his focus will be on improving public sector education, including the madrassahs. He also discussed providing the youth with loans to enable them to become entrepreneurs.
Addressing the National Assembly on Jun 25, 2020, Prime Minister Imran said that a uniform education system would be introduced in the country next year.
He emphasised the need to incorporate madrassahs into the mainstream education system.
On May 28, a single national curriculum was approved for Classes VI-VII and was to be introduced in the next academic session.
In May 2019, the Ministry for Federal Education had decided to start registration of all madrassahs in the country. In October the same year, the Directorate General of Religious Education (DGRE) was set up.
As of May 9, the DGRE has registered 5,000 seminaries and has 16 regional offices for registration. There are an estimated 35,000 seminaries in the country.
On this account, the promise to register all seminaries in the country stands at "in progress".
The party, however, has made no progress on its pledge to introduce a scheme to provide incentives to business enterprises for adopting madrassahs — something that was also a part of its manifesto. Therefore, we have rated this promise as "not started".
Prioritising girls’ education
Pertaining to girls’ education, the party had promised to provide stipends to secondary school going girls and to prioritise the establishment and upgradation of girls’ schools.
The upgradation of girls’ schools has taken place at a provincial level. In June 2020, the Punjab government said it had upgraded 1,227 elementary schools to the high school level, of which 606 were girls’ schools and 621 were for boys.
On June 11, 2019, Nishtar had announced that a voucher scheme for female students would be launched in cooperation with the provinces, Radio Pakistan reported.
However, a Rs2.6bn programme by the KP government to give monthly stipends to students of government schools in the merged tribal districts has not yet seen any progress. According to a Dawn report, the relevant authorities have been deliberating on how to execute the stipend scheme since it was approved. Under the programme, a Rs1,000 monthly stipend was to be given to girl students from nursery to secondary classes, Rs500 to boys in primary schools and Rs1,000 to students of secondary classes.
In April, the Ehsaas Secondary Education Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme for deserving households to send their children to schools was approved. Structured along the lines of the Ehsaas stipend policy, a higher amount is allocated for girls as compared to boys.
Since the handouts in KP and tribal areas are yet to begin, the work on this promise remains "in progress".
Kamyab Jawan Programme
Many of the PTI’s commitments to education are connected to their promises for youth development.
A key example of this is the Kamyab Jawan Programme (KJP) launched in October 2019. It is an aggressive small-and-medium-enterprise lending scheme, aimed at stimulating job creation and economically empowering the youth.
According to Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib, as of July 2021, the government had disbursed soft loans amounting to Rs17 billion among more than 14,000 entrepreneurs via the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme of KJP.
Another project launched by the PTI government is the Hunarmand Jawan programme aimed at the economic emancipation of the youth by providing them quality training. Launching the project on Jan 9, 2020, the premier said that the project would see the training of 500,000 youth. He added that the first 70 skill centres would be set up in madrassahs and in the next phase, 300 smart training centres were to be established.
The government had also vowed to launch a nationwide literacy programme. In March 2020, the Punjab government launched its literacy policy “to achieve 100pc literacy by 2030”.
The party had committed to the development of at least 10 technical universities. In December 2020, Punjab Minister for Higher Education Raja Yassir Humayun Sarfraz said that in a “matchless effort”, the PTI government had established five universities in two years and three more were underway in Punjab.
Both, the promise to create an education fund for young entrepreneurs and the promise to launch at least 10 technical universities are "in progress".
To read more about PTI’s progress on its promises, explore the Naya Pakistan Tracker.