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July 10, 2018

Manifesto season


July 10, 2018

The PTI has always portrayed itself as the party of change, and has claimed to offer new ideas and a fresh approach. The question surrounding the party has always been if it could follow through on its promises. With the launch of its manifesto on Monday, the PTI has now laid out a specific set of goals that it has promised to achieve should it be voted into power on July 25. As always with the party, one cannot be sure if it lives up to the high expectations it has set itself. The main focus of the manifesto is on rooting out corruption and bringing what the PTI calls ‘true accountability’. As appealing as this sounds, even a cursory look at the PTI’s performance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will show that it rarely lives up to its lofty rhetoric. The PTI manifesto vows to create 10 million new jobs, build five million homes and create a welfare state on par with that of the Scandinavian states. Even allowing for the fact that manifestos are aspirational documents, the PTI may just be promising more than it could ever hope to achieve.

For the PML-N, which launched its own manifesto last week, the promise is to deliver more of the same. The manifesto touts the party’s record on power generation, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the rate of economic growth and then goes on to vow to focus on these same areas – but do an even better job. Even more than the PTI, the PML-N manifesto will end up being ignored because of the circumstances surrounding the party. The PML-N has been rocked by the conviction of Nawaz Sharif, suffered many defections in recent months and has an uncertain route back to power. The manifesto certainly has some brave policy proposals, such as suggesting an improvement in ties with India and focusing even more than before on China. But given the many hurdles the party seems to be facing this election season, it is an open question if it will ever have the opportunity to implement its ideas. The PTI, meanwhile, is believed to hold the upper hand in the run-up to the polls. Thus its manifesto matters even more than that of other parties. That only makes it doubly unfortunate that it is filled with the same Naya Pakistan sloganeering we have come to expect from the party and offers little that is fresh or new.

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