On the campaign trail: Critics term PML-Q’s manifesto a ‘wish list’

Party says extremism is the most formidable challenge facing the country.


Our Correspondent April 18, 2013
“We have tried to be fair and factual in making promises through this manifesto,” says Syed. PHOTO: NNI

ISLAMABAD:


As part of a series of discussion on manifestos of political parties, it was the turn of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) on Wednesday.


While defending the manifesto of his party, PLM-Q Senator Mushahid Hussain said politicians should run their election campaigns on the basis of their past performances.

The discussion was organised by the Sustainable Policy Development Institute (SDPI).

Hussain said extremism was the most formidable challenge facing the country. He said his party had proposed the establishment of a national security council and a new counter-terrorism strategy to tackle the menace.

The PML-Q’s manifesto focuses primarily on forming a national education policy that promised to stem the gender gap, six per cent gross domestic product (GDP) growth, energy, employment, women’s empowerment and a “one-off settlement” for the circular debt, besides forming a new counter-terrorism strategy.

Senior analyst Lt-Gen (retd) Talat Masood said the manifesto has provided a long ‘wish list’ but failed to explain how these targets would be achieved.

“It is a good document to aspire to but you will have to work extremely hard to achieve even 50 per cent of it,” Masood told the PML-Q leaders.

Iqra Univesity Dean Muhammad Islam said the party had presented a ‘catch-all’ manifesto which covered a broad range of issues concerning the common man.

“It shows that the party is trying to portray itself as a national political party,” he said.

Islam dissected the manifesto from an academic perspective. He said symbolism was apparent in the manifesto, as the party gave reference to undisputed personalities like Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal.

Journalist Fouzia Shahid said Pakistan’s foreign policy was often influenced by the military and foreign players such as the US and Saudi Arabia. Shahid asked the PML-Q leaders if they would be able to free themselves from such influences and forge an independent foreign policy.

Hussain replied by saying that the previous parliament, including his own party, deserved some credit for not bowing to external pressures while taking decisions on the Pak-Iran pipeline and the Gwadar port.

Syed said a manifesto presented not only a political party’s vision statement but also listed promises, which could be used to test parties’ performances.

“We have tried to be fair and factual in making promises through this manifesto,” he said.

Earlier, SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Suleri said recent attacks on political parties were a serious threat to democracy and could endanger the whole election process.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2013.

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