On 29th April, in a historic and perhaps one of the biggest public rallies in recent times, Mr. Imran Khan unveiled his impressive 11 point manifesto for the upcoming elections. The most impressive thing about the manifesto was that it was centered on the welfare of common people, as compared to the more industrialist favored manifesto of the rivals, PML-N.
Shall we have a look ?
- Massive Investment in quality
- Uniform education for kids from all strata (and segment) of society including girls.
- Launching a health card scheme,
- Elimination of corruption,
- Improvement of the tax culture thus increasing self-sustainability of Pakistan.
- Generating employment opportunities
- Strengthening of the federation
- The creation of southern Punjab province as a new administrative unit
- Police Reforms
- Boosting investment and tourism
- Strengthening agriculture sector by imposing an agriculture emergency.
Mr. Khan aims to protect women population, provide relief to 5 Million low-income homes for the poor segment of society and wishes to increase profitability for farmers while protecting from Sharks.
The manifesto seems revolutionary and public welfare-oriented, and if implemented, it can surely move this country into the right direction of prosperity. And the entire nation, including me, hopes that the agenda is implemented and might end up voting him to the government.
However, there is one major flaw about this agenda that many fail to realize, the agenda, its implementation and possible mechanisms for this, are UNREALISTIC and UNBELIEVABLE, under the current political scenario.
Only a wide scale miraculous shift in Pakistan’s existing socio-political system can see this through, otherwise, the claims would prove to be no different to agendas given by PPP (especially Bhutto) and PML-N in past and would remain agendas on paper.
All major political leaders and military dictators in Pakistan’s history, especially when in opposition, have made claims of turning the tide of this country, such as eradicating illiteracy and poverty, returning all loans taken by collecting Rs.100 each and establishing peace and justice in the land, if they come to power.
But when they succeed in making it to the power corridors, the reality hits them, because it is impossible to end load shedding in 5 years, dams take years to build and require huge sums of money impossible to be generated without aid, and similar education system also takes at least 20 years to perform according to the policy expectations.
These are all long term projects while a perfectly functioning legal tenure is 5 years, the reason why many politicians came up with revolutionary agendas in the past and failed.
An example might be Mr. Shaukat Aziz who had lowered the duty on cars and A-C’s to boost living standards.
In short term this worked, there was money in the system from property industry, but generated influx of cars and demand for electricity and petrol hiked.
No long term plans were available, CNG was used as alternative and we are still suffering from high petrol prices, no gas and load shedding. We are still suffering from the mistakes made by those who came with eye-catching agendas. If such agendas were to succeed, Bhutto the most charismatic leader of our history would have made this country a super power, but sadly, lack of implementation mechanisms, support and other factors will always render them boastful paper claims.
Coming to Mr. Khan`s claims, 9 out of 11 points, including education, agriculture, accountability and police for example, have now become responsibilities of the provincial governments under the 18th amendment and the possible IK government will not be able to extend any of the proposed policies to the provinces even if it makes it to federal government.
Unless you make government in all provinces, you cannot implement it countrywide. To revoke or modify the 18th amendment, 2/3 rd majority is required, which currently, is an impossible task to achieve considering PTI’s political negligible status in Sindh and Baluchistan and a near zero percent chance of winning up to 90% seats from Punjab and KPK. Even if this happens, PTI only has 12 seats in Senate and will not dominate it with the strong opposition. Even if PTI ends up with this majority, PML-N, JUI-F, PPP and almost all parties from Pakistan would run down Islamabad and the PTI government over the “encroachment of provincial sovereignty”, Federation will break down and the system would collapse. Unless PTI makes government in all provinces and center, which for the next few years seems impossible, it will not be able to fully implement this agenda. Amending or revoking the 18th amendment is necessary for implementing this perfect agenda in the country, but is a dangerous thing to play with.
IK also wants to introduce an education system which is similar for the poor and the rich, with a single curriculum for all. He has made claims of educating the poor with the education level of Atchison and Beaconhouse, with one syllabus till grade 12. However, the question again is, how will you implement this? There are 1200 quality Cambridge schools in Pakistan, for which we do not have enough teachers, and the current ones are cashing millions a year based on the work load and their efforts. When you will create 128000 schools with the standard of Cambridge education, how will our universities come up with demand of providing enough teachers (considering it requires 10 years to produce a quality teacher) and will you have enough amounts to pay them, at least something in comparison to their current income level? And if you plan to bring in quality teachers to meet the standard and pay them, won’t the other government departments demand more? And how can you expect to introduce them and gain results in short run? These are realistic questions that require policy answers. The agenda is there, but again, the planning mechanism is missing. No state can provide 8 crore students with similar education system in a short run. It’s an agenda that must require serious policy implementation mechanisms and support from all parties, something missing with PTI’s current strategy.
It is true that Pakistan has vast untapped potential of tourism development, which if sustained, can bear the burden of Pakistans entire economy.
The Swiss model is something to look up to, considering the adventure tourism potential in the North and other tourist attraction throughout Pakistan. But this will require massive scale infrastructure development. Swiss model boasts of infrastructure unparalleled to other European countries around the Alps. From Model cable cars, ferries, chairlifts to all year access roads, and most importantly, a modern railways facility.
The railways cover the entire region, were developed over 150 years and including the 58km Gotthard tunnel and 2B Dollar double train, while the lowari tunnel has not been entirely completed in Pakistan in decades.
There is a reason why Singapore attracts 20B dollar revenue from tourists a year, and it’s based on expensive modern infrastructure and hotel and related industries. Remember, the tourists are attracted to areas which provide sufficient modern facilities, remove them, and Swiss and all other types of tourism would be left to nothing. But when we talk about Pakistan, such development would require huge sums of money, small scale legalization of Alcohol (as before Zia’s regime), railways linkage and all access roads, only then can we compete with today’s modern tourist destinations. This would require heavy foreign investments.
Even if you plan on a major tourism revolution and start developing infrastructure, than what is the difference between IK and the Sharifs, who are also giving a third world country, a modern infrastructure which is not the need of the hour.
The question raised would again be, Sharifs metro is wastage of money, but the Peshawar metro, despite exceeding in costs, is need of the public. If IK then develops on infrastructure, he would be a champion while Sharifs are wasting the money? The feasibility of spending the huge sums on tourism, which would still be a gamble, is something to question.
The claims made by IK are revolutionary, and if implemented, can surely make this country prosper. The public is impressed, and many like me would end up voting for him. But most of us would not question the implementation mechanism, policy changes required and overall chances of success for this plan. We might not question the good intention , but if IK does not come up with solid solutions to counter these major issues, how different would he be from other parties, who gave such agendas, even better sometimes, but ended up getting beaten up by the feasibility of these agendas and lack of planning.
Bhutto was the most charismatic leader we had, he came up with quiet similar, if not different proposals for the country, but had to face the fact that such revolutions require huge sums of money and years to bear fruit, if allowed to work with a proper implementation mechanism.
Failure to implement them would mean that history would remember IK amongst many others
“ Jo Naaron ke sodagar banay, Humein phir bewakoof banaya, aur lafz baich kar chal diyay”.