The alliteration theme, usually a part of literature lessons, continues in the process of manifesto writing by our leading political parties. The curious obsession with manifesto points beginning with the same letter had begun nearly a decade ago. After about a month of thought and discussion, the PML-N has come up with a manifesto comprising three ‘E’s — energy, education and economy. The manifesto was to have been presented on Independence Day, but was announced in advance by the PML-N party chief, Mian Nawaz Sharif, who will be in Saudi Arabia after August 14.
Certainly, each of the ‘E’s are relevant. We need to tackle each of them. But the PML-N does not appear to have clearly stated quite how it intends to achieve this. The senior Sharif has said that the power crisis will be solved within two years and Pakistan converted into one of the top 10 economies of the world. Similar strides forward are to be made in the education sector. But we have been given few details as to quite how these miraculous changes are to be achieved or what policies will be followed to do so. In other words, like so many before it, the manifesto really comprises a string of promises with little of substance to back them.
In this sense, it is especially ironic that Nawaz Sharif should have spent so much breath lashing out indirectly at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and warning people without mentioning the party or its leader not to be lured by mere words and promises. Given the crisis Pakistan faces, the manifestoes put out by our parties need to spell out in far clearer terms quite how they intend to achieve the said goals and what measures will be taken to bring about the change they hold out as a target. This has not happened for a long time. The art of manifesto writing has been lost and what should be a detailed blueprint for action and policy has really turned into little more than vague pledges, which sound extremely promising on paper, but with no guarantee that they can be converted into reality.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2012.
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