Hollow manifestos

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In the realm of politics, manifestos serve as a crucial touchstone for gauging the vision and commitment of political parties. They are not just words on paper but the blueprint of a party’s agenda, shaping the future trajectory of a nation. In Pakistan, the three major political parties – Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) – have been at the forefront of governance, yet a recent research study conducted by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) has exposed the glaring void in their manifestos.
The PIDE study sought to assess the concrete plans and substance, or the lack thereof, in the manifestos of these three political heavyweights, examining their ability to address 18 key issues and sectors fundamental to Pakistan’s progress. These issues encompassed a wide spectrum of governance, from local government to energy, taxation to state-owned enterprises. The findings are a glaring indictment of the parties’ preparedness for governance.
The results of the study paint a grim picture. PPP scored zero in 17 out of 18 indicators, PTI in 13, and PML-N in 12. The overall score for the three major parties falls significantly below the 20% mark, signifying that they have comprehensive ideas for only a fraction of Pakistan’s crucial economic and policy issues.
Furthermore, when we delve deeper into these figures, we uncover an even more disheartening reality. PML-N’s manifesto addresses only 12% of these key issues, PPP’s covers a mere 7%, and PTI’s accounts for a meager 1.5%. This striking disparity illustrates the hollowness of the manifestos when it comes to addressing the nation’s core concerns.
Manifestos should be the embodiment of a political party’s understanding of the root causes of problems and a roadmap to tackle them. They should encompass constitutional and legislative changes to shift the balance of power in favor of marginalized groups and present concrete policies, strategies, and projects. Additionally, these documents should emphasize institutional reform, enhancing the responsiveness of state institutions to the needs of the masses.
The lack of substance in the manifestos of these major political parties raises serious questions about their commitment to the long-term development of the country. The myopic approach to governance, ad-hocism, and the prioritization of vested interests over the welfare of the nation are alarming trends that are emerging from this research.
As we approach elections and the public decides the fate of these parties, it is imperative that citizens demand more than empty rhetoric and grandiose promises. Parties aiming for repeated wins must delve deep into the issues affecting the masses, propose substantive solutions, and exhibit a profound understanding of the root causes of problems.
It is high time for a paradigm shift in Pakistani politics. The manifestos should not be mere documents of electoral convenience but should reflect the sincere commitment of political parties to the welfare of the masses and the long-term development of the nation. The citizens of Pakistan deserve better; they deserve manifestos that hold real substance, and they deserve leaders who prioritize their needs over narrow vested interests.