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Election manifestos have rarely been given much importance in Pakistani politics.

Many of the regimes that have ruled Pakistan have been unelected: For them, manifestos were never important because they never had to contest elections.

Now, for the first time in Pakistan’s history, one civilian government is to complete its complete five year tenure and another is to take its place, via a smooth system of transition.

Within this larger scenario, as elections draw closer, parties are now considering their stance on issues that can help them win or lose votes – the energy crisis, the economy, education, human rights, terrorism, law and order, etc.

Just recently, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) announced its manifesto. Their policies are focused on resolving the energy crisis in particular. They have also declared that the right to food should be a fundamental right (via a constitutional amendment).

In the meanwhile, 2011’s biggest entry on the political landscape, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, made a grand statement via its platform for change.

For many, it was the issues being raised by Imran Khan and his party that were important, rather than how ‘electable’ Imran Khan himself is. Corruption and drone strikes in particular have faced Imran’s wrath in many rhetorical speeches.

But this is what this debate comes down to: Does this rhetoric actually translate into concrete manifestos? How many parties have actually come up with specific, realistic proposals for change?

Pakistan’s faltering economy, increased sectarianism, spiralling violence and crippling power shortage cannot be resolved by loudly proclaimed intentions, or written documents, alone. Manifestos much show some level of technical know-how and expertise.

An even more thought-provoking question for our readers: Do manifestos even matter when Pakistan is completely dominated by personality-based, rather than issue-based politics? That much is obvious from a number of things.

Firstly, political parties are dominated by certain families. It’s the name and legacy of candidates that arguably help propel them to victory – whether it’s the Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, Awami National Party or PML-N, family members tend to dominate power structures within parties.

Secondly, the amount of horse trading and ‘jumping ship’ that takes place, especially of late, shows that the political process in Pakistan is dominated by ‘realpolitik’ rather than ideology.

In this scenario – how important are manifestos? What can help Pakistan move towards issue-based electioneering rather than traditional feudal loyalties, for example?

Comments (10) Closed

khanm Mar 10, 2013 11:06am
Election Manifestos have rarely been given much importance in Pakistani politics because most politicians don
Guest63 Mar 08, 2013 05:57pm
Its a tool or trick of the trade to get elected and then forget it ..... After the 1965 war ended at the agreement with india in Tashqand (USSR) , The then Foreign minister One called Zulfiqar ali Bhutto ( who happend to be addressing gen Ayub as my dady ! while sharing the rule with him ) Got frustrated and quit the job and raised a new political party called PPP . One of his prime slogan was " WHEN HE COMES TO POWER , HE WILL INFORM THE NATION HOW THE PRESIDENT HAS SOLD OUT THE COUNTRY IN THE NEGOTIATIONS AT THE TASHQAND TABLE ! " , eventually he became martial law administrator , President , then PM ,,, BUT HE NEVER EVER Fulfilled His so simple promise in fact he gave some more unbelievable and never achievable promises like Roti Kapra aur Makan and he went to gallows with all his promises just a day dreams for the poor nationals .... So the moral of this short story is , man-festive or none , Its a just a dirty trick to get elected , nothing more and I am a living witness to all such drama since 1968 ( the first student killed on the GT road Rawal Pindi , was a fellow student of Polytechnic who died in our arms , while ZA Bhutto's sped away in his car and his cronies towing him in haste .....
Fahim Khan, Canada Mar 08, 2013 09:53pm
On the cover page of Manifesto Nawaz already showing his flight going to Saudi Arabia or perhaps Washington.
Farooq Ali Mar 09, 2013 04:40am
There is no need to issue a manifesto in presence of a constitution and objectives resolution of 1949. The political parties can however issue their programme of reforms which may be subjectwise like ,energy crisis management ,health, corruption control , law and order etc .
Fahad Mar 10, 2013 09:41am
Manifestos are good, even if they are issued by someone as poor (historically) as Nawaz Sharif. But be it Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, Zardari or Musharaf...if the manifesto has no "Quantitative" measures then the manifesto is just the same pack of lies that we used to hear in Jalsa's being printed into books! I do not want a manifesto to say "Economic improvement" rather I want to see figrues of 1%, 2%, 3% or 100% growth in economy so that year on year and after 5 years the ruling government can be put to task on their words.
Agha Ata (USA) Mar 09, 2013 01:25pm
It isn't only politics, the concept of the whole relationship in Pakistan in personality based. It starts in our homes, not at Minare Pakistan. Besides, relationship has always been more important in our society than RULES. Just listen to a common discussion going on within our families. Does anyone mention rules, or talks of ISSUES as much as of relationship? Whenever there is an argument between relatives, it is all about personalities and RELATIONSHIP, never about RULES or LAW or even ISSUES! So where would you start? Probably at the Kindergarten schools. That, too, if the teachers stop arguing about relationship and concentrate on issues in their homes! Otherwise it would take minimum 40 years to see any affect! Twenty years for the kids to become teachers,and another twenty years for them to produce unpolluted minds!
Ali Mar 09, 2013 03:20pm
very nice point raised , does we need a manifesto at all in a system where people are not educated , unaware of there rights and duties , no comments on state institutions which are at there worse since the formation of this country , and manifesto's created are does not portray any level of expert/technical ways rather then its another poster for people to wrap samosa's and sell.
mehmood h. bhanji Mar 09, 2013 03:24pm
This is a new strategy to divert focus from his past performance and his track record of looting Pakistan. Manifesto is produced with a dilogue with the nation and not produced overnite with the help of some pundits from a Think Tank in a posh Islamabad Mahal. It is high time send them to their Palaces in Dubai,Switerland or wherever and have High Tea. Mr. Nawaz is going to solve the Energy Crisis and bring accountability. What did he promise all those MNA's and MPA's that are joining his party?
sja Mar 09, 2013 03:44pm
Pakistan kay nadayhinda self made caretakers -------- Imran Khan------------ Insaaf Asghar Khan----------Istaqlaaal Dr Qadri --------------Election Commission INQALAAAB The founder of Pakistan worked tirelessly with the slogan -- Faith - Unity -- Discipline. The breaker of Pakistan PPP Z A Bhutoo with the slogan -- Roti -- Kapra -- Makaaan The caretaker of Pakistan Imran, Asghar, Dr Tahir with the slogan-- Insaaf, Istaqlaal, Inqalaaab The preserver of Pakistan Altaf Hussain -------- SIYASAT, MUFAHAYMAT, main hay humari QIYADAT
YOUSUF HUSSAIN Mar 10, 2013 02:09pm
There is no need for manifesto, our priority should be like Education on the Top ( make Education same for all class or belonging),Health on the second,Business and Economic development on the third etc...