PTI’s 100 days plan

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In Pakistan, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has privileged to be the first political party that has worked out and announced the strategy for the first 100 days of its government. Undoubtedly, this is an ambitious plan that falls rather short on substance. Though to be fair, Imran Khan is right when he stresses that a nation’s progress is not measured by the number of upscale housing societies but by accountability and tackling corruption as well as investing in education. Be that as it may, there was talk of creating 10 million jobs within five years; constructing 5 million new houses; of providing quality education for all; of promoting manufacturing and thereby paving the way for speedy growth of small- and medium-sized businesses. All of which suggests that the time has come for Pakistan’s political parties to reach consensus on how to conduct debate that is an essential part of electioneering. Yet what Pakistan presently has is anything but. There are no completed manifestos anywhere to speak of. The brouhaha that has been prompted by PTI’s 100-Day plan should be an embarrassment to all. Not least because it does not even touch on what a full year of a Khan government might look like.
Similarly, there were promises of improving Karachi’s security situation; of ensuring that the country’s poorest districts are brought on a par with others. When it came to women, the PTI chairman vowed to protect their rights. And so on and so forth. In other words, the 100-Day plan lacks in detail. There was no mention of how to realise any of this in practical terms. Thus there has been no outlining of enforcement mechanisms of any sort. It therefore seems that Khan has not learned the lessons of his last defeat where he talked big but stumbled and fell when it came to walking the walk. Nevertheless, the reaction of his political rivals has been somewhat surprising. So work up about it all was the incumbent PMLN that it scheduled a press conference to respond to the former cricketer’s throwing down the gauntlet; before duly postponing it. Even Khursheed Shah, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, seems to be suffering from a case of ruffled feathers. For the PPP’s traditional voice of measured reason went as far as to term the 100-Day plan tantamount to pre-poll rigging.
The PTI deserves credit for being the only party which has so far put before the voters the list of its priorities after assuming power. The party propounded an 11-point programme for a new Pakistan at its Lahore rally last month followed by a 10-point programme for Karachi early this month. On Sunday the PTI unveiled a plan for first 100 days in office if elected to power. Compared to six years back when Imran Khan promised to end corruption in 19 days and terrorism in 90 days, this time he sounds less naïve.
The latest plan is a misnomer as there is hardly any promise in the list that can be fulfilled within the given timeframe. Some of the tasks like the creation of 10 million jobs or construction of five million low cost housing units can take years to reach anywhere near fruition. In case the bill to mainstream FATA is passed before May 31, the PML-N would take credit for initiating the process. The creation of a South Panjab province will take time since it will require resolving the complex issue of its borders. What is more constitutional amendments would be needed to carve out a new province and to give it representation in the Senate. For this the PTI will have to win with a thumping majority and display an ability to build bridges with other parties for which it has so far shown little aptitude.
Some of the new ideas broached in the 100-day plan need elucidation. For instance, the PTI has promised to transform state-owned enterprises (SOEs) by creating Pakistan Wealth Fund and by taking the SOEs out of the purview of line ministries. It has promised to introduce reforms – without fleshing these out – in PIA, Railways, Pakistan Steel Mills, power generation and distribution companies on emergency basis. Many think some of the loss bearing SOEs are haemorrhaging the national economy and should be straightaway privatised. In the presence of ISI, MI and IB and at a time when attempts are afoot to strengthen NACTA, the idea of setting up four national security organisations is altogether senseless. But the destiny is still far as caretaker set up is not in scene, election schedule then holding the elections are awaited, summarily everything is in pipeline and the nation is looking wait and see policy.