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Monday May 27, 2024

Politics in the digital age

Primarily focuses on charity and philanthropy giving impression that party is more of a charitable organization rather than a political entity operating in third decade of 21st century

By Dr Murtaza Khuhro
January 14, 2024
Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari welcomes the enthusiastic reception of the participants rally at the Tandlianwala Hockey Stadium on January 11, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Peoples Party - PPP
Pakistan People's Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari welcomes the enthusiastic reception of the participant's rally at the Tandlianwala Hockey Stadium on January 11, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Peoples Party - PPP

The 10-point manifesto of the PPP is deeply disappointing and outdated in light of the social, economic, scientific, technological, and intellectual advancements of the 21st century.

It primarily focuses on charity and philanthropy, giving the impression that the party is more of a charitable organization rather than a political entity operating in the third decade of the 21st century.

Words such as good governance, people’s empowerment, constitutional rule, digitization, digitalization, education system transformation, and proactive disclosure of expenditure with evidence are noticeably absent from the manifesto.

There is no mention of the development of high-tech industries or energy solutions through solar systems in the peripheral regions of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Similarly, there is a lack of emphasis on primary healthcare, education, and skill development through artificial intelligence tools and virtual technologies.

The manifesto also fails to address the urgent need for a complete overhaul of the judicial system to ensure justice is accessible to every citizen at their doorstep.

There is no mention of a digital secretariat that operates round the clock and is accessible to all citizens from anywhere, anytime. A comprehensive programme to transform village life and improve the living conditions of people in urban slums is also absent from the manifesto.

The three fundamental pillars of the robotic arm of governance, in conjunction with constitutional rule, are: a) digitization and digitalization as a unified approach; b) empowerment of the people through access to information; and c) equipping individuals with the latest technological tools for education and skill development.

First, digitization and digitalization form an inseparable duo, driving the transformation of governance. These processes enable the efficient management and utilization of data, leading to streamlined operations and improved decision-making. By embracing digitization and digitalization, governance can harness the power of technology to enhance transparency, accountability, and service delivery.

Second, empowering the people through information is crucial. This entails ensuring that individuals have access to comprehensive and timely information regarding bureaucratic and ministerial actions, including the allocation of public funds. Transparency is vital, and this can be achieved by substantiating expenditures with verifiable vouchers and bank statements. By keeping citizens informed, governance builds trust and fosters active participation in the democratic process.

The government must prioritize the enforcement of sections pertaining to proactive disclosure in both the federal and provincial information acts. This can be achieved by establishing information commissions as mandated by law in each district headquarters.

It is imperative for the government to take proactive measures to ensure transparency and accountability. By enforcing the relevant sections of the federal and provincial information acts, the government can promote the disclosure of information without the need for specific requests. This proactive disclosure empowers citizens by providing them with readily accessible information about government activities and decisions.

To facilitate this process effectively, the government should establish information commissions in every district headquarters. These commissions will serve as independent bodies responsible for overseeing the implementation and enforcement of proactive disclosure provisions. They will ensure compliance with the law and address any concerns or disputes related to the disclosure of information.

By establishing information commissions at the district level, the government can bring transparency closer to the people. Citizens will have a local point of contact where they can seek information, lodge complaints, or request clarifications. This decentralization of information access strengthens governance and fosters greater citizen engagement.

Last, the robotic arm of governance should prioritize equipping individuals with the latest technological tools for education and skill development. From the primary level to higher secondary education, leveraging cutting-edge technology enhances learning outcomes and prepares individuals for the demands of the modern world.

By investing in the brainpower of the people, governance promotes innovation, critical thinking and socio-economic progress.

Governance should be equipped with a variety of tools, including digitization, digitalization, and the empowerment of people through information. It should encompass all bureaucratic and ministerial actions, including expenditure from public funds, which should be substantiated with verifiable vouchers and bank statements.

The manifesto should focus on equipping people’s minds with the latest technological tools for education and skill development, starting from the primary level up to higher secondary education.

Although individuals, including boys and girls in remote areas of the country, have increasing access to the latest developments in science and technology due to the hyper-globalization of information, it appears that political leaders, policymakers, economic managers, and academicians lack awareness of these rapid advancements.

It is concerning that the PPP’s election manifesto fails to acknowledge the importance of incorporating the use of robotics, artificial intelligence, and generative tools in their plans to lead people into the future.

It is crucial to recognize the significance of digitalization in promoting good governance, transparency, accountability, efficiency enhancement, and reduction of corruption.

The development of high-tech industries, revolutionizing agriculture, and uplifting the informal economy are all dependent on certain factors, including an uninterrupted and affordable energy supply to every citizen and government office, as well as every economic unit.

The current energy model is characterized by inefficiency, high costs, and an inclination towards rent-seeking, which has proven to hinder development. Consequently, there is an urgent need to transform the existing model. A comprehensive approach should be adopted, with a key focus on harnessing solar energy.

For instance, it is essential to address the energy needs of remote areas, particularly in Balochistan. People residing in the villages of Balochistan should not have to endure deprivation of basic human rights for the next two or three decades due to inadequate energy supply. They should have access to urban amenities, education, healthcare facilities and information. Ensuring access to water from the earth without depending solely on electricity is crucial. This necessitates the adoption of a new model for electricity and power generation.

It can be safely said that the PPP’s manifesto requires significant improvements to align with the current needs and challenges of the 21st century. It should address crucial areas such as good governance, empowerment of the people, technology-driven solutions, transparency in expenditure, education, healthcare, and justice.

Without a comprehensive understanding of the latest developments in fields like information, knowledge, research, innovation, and development (IKRID), political leaders and parties will struggle to guide the country effectively in the face of exponential advancements in generative artificial intelligence tools.


The writer is an advocate of the high court and a former civil servant.