The rapid urbanization phenomenon is considered by political parties’ under their political manifestos. These Manifestos can’t neglect significance of urban development as Pakistan is one of fastest urbanizing country in South Asia. According to expectations, more than 50% of population will be living in urban areas by 2025. The past trend of population census shows rise of urban population from 43 to 75.8 million (Un-Habitat, 2016 and Rana 2017 ). This bulge of population has led to aggravation of urban ecology due to lack of effective urban governance and inefficient utilization of resources (Ibid). It has led to economic, ecological and social sustainability issues in urban areas. It also caused environmental problems, pollution of air, water and land. Additionally, unpredictable rural-urban migration, climate changes, deforestation, crime, violence and etc. is further negatively influencing life in urban areas (Khan, 1996 , Qasim et al., 2014 , Jatoo et al., 2016 ). Consequently, urban opportunities are facing trade off with environmental pressure. Along with manifestos, it is also part of Vision 2025 and 11th Goal of Resilient cities under Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The manifestos of political parties are already available which have initiated thought provoking debates among experts and citizens overall. The analysis of three major parties (Pakistan People Party, Pakistan Muslim League-N and Pakistan Tahreek e Insaf) manifestos in the light of urban development context results to great insights. All of political parties have focused on major issues of Pakistan but in the light of urban reforms we found PPP to be leading other parties, followed by PML-N and PTI. Specifically, the PPP manifesto discusses urban reforms in almost 20 points, PML-N discusses less than 20 points and PTI discusses 8 points. The common points of urban reforms are related to improving services of hospitals, schools and water and sanitation service provision in urban areas. Commonalities: One of interesting similar point for comparison between PTI and PML-N is both parties are targeting ‘urban area’ of Sindh province. The PML-N is targeting Gwadar and Karachi city while, PTI targets only Karachi. The PML –N talks about supply of clean drinking water to coastal areas of Karachi through installing desalination plants. For Gwadar city, it plans to make a smart port city by expediting development and consolidation of Gwadar city and port in line with ‘Gwadar City Master Plan’. Similarly, PTI talks about new city government model for Karachi that empowers elected officials and a city government. In addition to that, PTI promises for provision of housing to suburbs of Karachi with commutation infrastructure. However, PPP does not target any city in particular. Population Control: The point of population control can be one of the effective contributing factors to rapid urbanization. However, this agenda is only reflected in PPP party manifesto under reproductive health and family planning. This point stresses on accessibility for family planning services, post pregnancy services, legislation for reproductive health rights, integration of population planning and health including training of lady health workers in advocacy, communication and counseling for effective family planning. Digitalization: From the aspect of digital revolution in urban reforms, PML-N is comparatively digitally smart party than all others. The ‘Safe City project’ is one of aspect of Smart City development, which is considered only by PML-N. The PML-N has become successful in completion of Safe city plan in past, now it is promising for introducing Safe City Project in all major cities. Second digital aspect introduced by PML-N is moving all citizens’ credentials and documents to a unified digital platform. Third digital aspect is establishing country-wise digital platform for all citizens related government services. Fourth digital aspect is scaling up of free ‘Wi-Fi’ hotspots in all major cities. Fifth digital aspect is reducing gender digital divide by enhancing participation and inclusion of women in ICT eco-system. Sixth digital aspect is establishing e-libraries. Apart from PML-N, PTI promises Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) interventions to improve water management in urban and rural areas. While, PPP discusses about health data management at union council and district levels for ensuring evidence-based supported health interventions. Different-abled persons: From the aspect of different-abled persons, PPP is leading in promising to amend public and private sector building regulations for providing facilities to different-abled persons and accessibility issues in public and private transport sector in urban areas. However, PTI and PML-N are not discussing about different-abled persons in their urban reforms. Irregular settlements and Housing: Another potentially different point of PPP party is regularization of irregular settlement to support poor under new schemes and plantation. Similar to this point, PTI focuses on supply of clean drinking water in urban slums and initiating housing for urban poor in suburbs of Karachi with commutation infrastructure. However, PML-N does not discusses about irregular settlement or housing projects in particular. Trees Plantation: The tree plantation or ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ was project of PTI and is again part of current manifestos which is also taken by PPP party this time. It promises for tree plantation and reforestation in urban areas which will help in improving quality of life in urban settlements. However, PML-N does not launch any specific project of tree plantation or reforestation. Urban Flooding: The PTI party has given another diverse point in manifestos, i.e., expansion of rainwater catchment in rural and urban areas. It will enhance resilience of cities against urban flooding issue especially in monsoon season. This point is not taken by any other party under their manifestos. Transportation: The PML-N promises for provision of public transports in 25 major cities and urban rail systems in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta. Along with transportation services, two unlike promises of PML-N for establishing a Film City, Film institute, and Science, Technology and Innovation parks on the lines of ‘Arfa Karim’ Towers in cities for promoting tech-based entrepreneurship. Comparatively, such precise projects are not offered by any other party. PTI talks about urban housing and its commutation and PPP general talks about improving transportation services. In the light of these manifestos, if we observe development dynamics in each province then we can understand why there exists a difference. Considering the fact from Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report, Punjab province is facing comparatively lesser amount of multidimensional poverty than other provinces . Therefore, they are promising for new things, like ‘digitalization and safe city’ which other parties don’t. However, there exists a paradox, if we consider PML-N party which was under trail of corruption since last year, currently facing imprisonment promises for revolutionary urban infrastructure reforms in next ruling. While, the landmark of Metro Bus, flyovers and road infrastructure in cities under their government gives a good picture of PML-N commitments. Hopefully, election of year 2018 will be on time on its promised date. Everyone has right to voting on basis of his/her own likeliness based on analysis of various points. In terms of urban reforms, if we get PML-N in power then we may have significant change in urban infrastructure, like safe city plan, new transportation infrastructure and digitally smart services in various cities of Pakistan. On the other hand, if we have PTI party comes in power then we may find improvement in governance system of urban areas. However, PTI can bring change by reducing urban flooding issues and water management. Similarly, PPP party can add services for different abled persons, population control and good governance in cities. Lets’ wait and leave on voters to decide, what they want which party should rule in coming next years. Every party looks committed to deliver, whoever comes in power, we hope for urban development in coming years.
Approved By SDPI