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The Nation

Published Date: Apr 2, 2013

Speakers term parties? manifestos exaggerated statements

Speakers
at a seminar on ‘Relevance of Manifesto in Political Dynamics of Pakistan’
termed the manifestos presented by political parties for general elections 2013
as exaggerated statements pertaining national issues and superficial as far the
question of their implementation is concerned.The seminar held here on Monday
under the aegis of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) was first in
the series of bringing into discussion the manifestos of mainstream political
parties and their impact on the electorates in the run up to the general
elections. Speaking at the occasion, Dr Abid Q Suleri, Executive Director,
Sustainable Development Policy Institute regretted that political parties
particularly those who were in the opposition failed to give shadow cabinet and
belied the notion of opposition is the government in waiting. According to him,
the missing element in every party’s manifesto appeared to be a deliverable
plan of action as to how the party is going to implement one policy statement
or the other on important national issues.Asif Saeed Memon of SDPI raised the
questions on promises made in manifestos by various parties and said there is
dire need of analyzing the policy failures or policy successor of the past 5
years. Citing policy statement on the education sector, he said, every party is
now promising an increase in budget for education to 4 percent of GDP, which is
exactly the same pledge they made five years ago without achieving any goal. He
said there is also a mismatch between voter’s preferences and promised
deliverables by political parties in their manifestos, hence, a lose-lose
situation for the social sectors particularly education and health.Raza Rumi,
Director Jinnah Institute, said after an historic completion of five years by a
democratically elected government and country’s edging closer to a rare
democratic transition, the next step is to move towards larger agenda of
political reforms. “The reforms must start with democratization of political
parties through intra party elections; establishing a transparent system of
party funding and expenditures and strict adherence to the promises made in the
manifestos by political parties,” he added. He was of the view that
political parties have failed to become institution largely due to continuous
disruption of the democratic system by military dictators and non-existent
democratic culture within the political parties.He expressed the hope that
after first democratic transition the political parties would learn that the
path to real democracy goes through democratization of their own rank and
files.Talking about the manifestos presented by political parties in 2008, he
said, most of the parties missed out on engaging youth, which are currently
half of the Pakistani voters. Mosharraf Zaidi, renowned analyst and
development professional discussed the relevance of manifestos with a focus on
education. He said PPP promised in its 2008 manifesto right to education for
children from 5 to 16 years of age. Unfortunately, after 5 years almost 25 million
students are out of school. In the latest manifesto PPP promised to increase
adult literacy rate from 54 per cent to 85 per cent. He exclaimed as how
and from which head the PPP procured budget allocation to achieve its goal of
85 per cent literacy in the country by 2018.