PTI chief Imran Khan seems to be focusing on an agenda centered on a complete overturn of systems. The manifesto was revealed earlier this month at a conference in Islamabad. Divided into seven main categories, the document outlines all judicial, economic, and administrative reforms to be taken under PTI’s leadership.
“For PTI, it is not just ‘politics’: it is a commitment to building a welfare state where the rule of law, meritocracy, and transparency are guaranteed to all citizens – where a social welfare safety net is provided to the marginalized and the elderly.”
‘The Road to Naya Pakistan’ can only be paved with accountability at the core: meaning justice will be brought to the forefront. To this end, Khan means to depoliticise police and ‘reform the criminal justice system’. What should be highlighted here is that ‘speedy access to justice’ has also been promised: a tall order to fill in Pakistan.
“PTI’s police reforms in KP have depoliticised the police force by making recruitment purely on a professional and merit-based system.”
Furthermore, in terms of ‘strengthening the federation’, Khan means to improve social conditions. This will be done by introducing gender parity and more relief for the poor. Economically, Khan intends to turn the country’s institutions into an inclusive enterprise. Primarily, this will mean generating employment: 10 million jobs to be exact. This suggests a priority towards improving the quality of life by a lot; to support this, PTI also intends to support and boost trade, while turning Pakistan into a ‘business-friendly’ arena.
But perhaps what makes the manifesto special is the little things: consideration for minorities, an approach towards gender equality, care for those with special needs, a green revolution, and encouragement of sports, art, and culture. Included in Khan’s introductory preface is the claim that for PTI, the people of Pakistan are the wealth of the country. Thus, it dedicates itself to the ‘welfare of all the people of Pakistan without discrimination’.
To provide proof that PTI will in fact deliver, Imran Khan cites some examples from the past: “PTI also delivered on its commitment to devolve decision-making and financial power to the village level through its Local Government law.”
PTI has made some tough promises in the manifesto. Its commitment to establishing ‘justice and equity’ is admirable, but is it really realistic? There are forces within the country’s judiciary itself that make this a difficult prospect. Even further, how far can one man really get? Certain factions in the country remain hell-bent on preventing progress. How long can Imran Khan keep fighting against everyone in order to implement all these changes?
Moreover, along with speaking of ‘the spirit of tolerance and acceptance’, there is also a stress on turning the country into a fundamentally ‘Islamic’ welfare state. One of the questions that arise is: Will PTI have mechanisms in place for ensuring Islamisation does not invite radicalism? Pakistan’s track record with implementing an Islamic system has almost always come at the cost of delegitimizing minority rights. So this promise is a risky one to keep up with for sure.
However, the work that has been in KP is certainly evidence of PTI’s drive. A zero-tolerance policy against corruption has resulted in 129 police officials being let go and a further seven demoted. An online First Information Report (FIR) system has been introduced through which 1030 reports have been submitted so far. Furthermore, the project ‘Parho Aur Zindagi Badlo’ has managed to get 0.3 million children enrolled in schools. Not only that but Rs.200 each is also being paid to school-going girls. This is a clever tactic to encourage parents to send their daughters to school as well.
Whether PTI can implement its reforms on a bigger scale, with definitive positive results, remains to be seen. Let’s see if Imran Khan gets the chance to show the public how steadfastly he can stick to his promises.