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Express Tribune

Published Date: Apr 9, 2013

Discussion on manifesto: ANP to expedite devolution if voted to power

In
the continuing debate on the relevance of manifestos in the country’s political
dynamics, it was the Awami National Party’s (ANP) turn to face a barrage of
questions by journalists and political enthusiasts on Monday.

The
discussion was held at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

Against
the backdrop of the war on terror, peace and security have remained an
important aspect of the manifesto with the ANP taking a more hardline approach
towards terrorism.

“We’re
fighting a war in our region where our party members and leaders are targeted
and killed. We will only negotiate on the basis of the Constitution,” he said.
The manifesto also introduces a standard policy for compensation, including a
comprehensive public insurance policy, for victims of sectarianism, terrorism
and violence, along with the establishment of a martyrs’ cell in the provinces
and Federally Administrative Tribal Areas to ensure well-being of victims’
families.

The
manifesto managed to impress with the ANP’s take on various issues, but lacked
clear policy guidelines on how to achieve most of its objectives. The ANP
commits political will to provincial autonomy with the centre retaining control
of defence, foreign affairs, currency and communications and pledges full
implementation of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, particularly with
reference to oil, gas, water and power, energy, health and education.

In
the manifesto, the ANP will build on policies of devolution of power to the
provinces started during the last three years. Water distribution was also
highlighted in the manifesto which stated that the party believes in fair and
just distribution of water resources particularly of the Indus river system and
it will strongly oppose usurping of water rights of the provinces.

The
discussion was riddled with a clash of opinions as questions and answers
volleyed back and forth between Senator Muhammad Adeel of ANP and journalist
Mubarak Zeb Khan which prompted some to intervene in order to maintain decorum.
According to Mubarak, while the manifesto talks in length about women’s rights
the method to quantify those rights cannot be seen anywhere in the manifesto.
As way of an answer, Adeel said parents receive Rs200 per month to encourage
them to send girls to school. Centre for Civic Education Executive Director
pointed out that the manifesto managed to retain most of its secular spirit
with a clear statement on equality for all regardless of religious or ethnic
background.

The
social sector and education were promised ambitious budget allocations by the
ANP. The manifesto states that education should remain a provincial subject
with 6% of GDP allotted to it. ANP also takes up the issue of textbook reforms
proposing to eliminate hate material in the manifesto.