Peoples Party keeps ‘people-centric’ reforms in focus

Published January 28, 2024
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a rally in Peshawar on Friday. — Photo courtesy PPP/X
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a rally in Peshawar on Friday. — Photo courtesy PPP/X

• Promises to improve economic, judicial & governance sectors
• Vows to end enforced disappearances, devolve power
• Sherry says business as usual no longer an option

ISLAMABAD: After the release of its 10-point economic agenda earlier this month, the PPP on Saturday released its election manifesto, promising to provide relief to the inflation-stricken populace through focus on rights and governance reforms.

The 64-page manifesto — titled Chuno Nai Soch Ko (elect new vision] — shared by PPP leader Sherry Rehman promises devolution of power under the 18th Amendment, criminalisation of enforced disappearances, accountability of intelligence agencies, as well as efforts to depoliticise and de-corporatise the ‘national security complex’.

It also promises a shift from a ‘security state’ to a welfare state, which prioritises the rig­hts of citizens over the privileges of the civil-military bureaucratic complex. The PPP announced that it would repeal “discriminatory and outdated colonial laws that are inconsistent with human rights principles”. This includes revisiting the Clause 2 (1d) of the Army Act.

Senator Rehman stressed that given the situation of the country, business as usual was no longer an option.

“We cannot wait for the rich to get far, far richer before they allow their wealth to trickle down to the landless, the poor, the unemployed, and the un-empowered,” she said. The senator said that to implement the ambitious social mobilisation programmes, there will be “burden sharing with those who can afford it”.

“As mentioned in the manifesto, the party will ensure that all Pakistanis can send their children to good local schools, and make sure that healthcare is available to all for free,” she said.

The party, she added, intends to roll out a diverse range of programmes addressing issues such as food insecurity, healthcare accessibility, social safety net expansion, and initiatives like the youth card. The party would also launch welfare schemes for farmers and labourers.

“By giving them resilient homes and ownership of those homes, as has already begun in Sindh’s post-flood areas, we will change them into home and small land owners, with women as the actual title holders of these new assets. We will provide social protections under the BISP, expand the existent projects, and empower young people by providing financial support and training, as well as creating youth centres in every district,” she added.

Senator Rehman also referred to the ‘Ten-Point Economic Agenda’ and said it was the vision of new thinking on creating a social contract with the people of Pakistan, who have been struggling with soaring inflation and climate and social distress on the ground.

‘Rights for all’

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman shows a copy of the party manifesto to the media, on Saturday.—White Star
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman shows a copy of the party manifesto to the media, on Saturday.—White Star

To strengthen democracy in the country, the PPP said it would empower the local government system, implement the charter of democracy, and devolve powers as per the 18th Amendment.

Under this chapter of the manifesto, the party said it would not only sign and ratify the “Inter­national Conven­tion on Enforced Dis­appeara­nces” but also introduce legislation to criminalise this practice. The party has also announced plans to fully operationalise federal legislation on the “protection of journalists” and encourage provinces to do the same.

The PPP said it will introduce legislation to prevent the “misuse of blasphemy law” as well as laws for the protection of human rights defenders. It will also reform laws which carry death sentences and reduce the number of offences which entail capital punishment.

The party has detailed pledges for the rights of various vulnerable sections of society, including transgender persons, children, and women.

The manifesto has a complete chapter titled ‘Justice for all’. It calls for enhancing transparency within the superior judiciary’s operations, including bench formation and court administration, which will be critical to restoring public confidence in the judiciary.

According to the PPP, the procedure for the appointment of judges of superior judiciary will be amended to give a meaningful role to parliament and other stakeholders.

The manifesto also covers issues like food security, water management, climate change, and energy in detail. The PPP said it would also establish old age homes across the country.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2024


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