IK’s agenda for new Pakistan
Addressing a mammoth public meeting at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore PTI Chairman Imran Khan announced his 11 point agenda for new Pakistan. It includes uniform education curriculum; health insurance; progressive and egalitarian tax system; elimination of corruption; self reliance; agricultural reforms; boosting investment; reducing underemployment; low cost housing; large scale forestation and reforestation and strengthening the federation.
No doubt PTI Chairman Vision of new Pakistan reflects the aspiration of masses. But how can his agenda of prosperous Pakistan can be sincerely implemented is a million dollar question? In the decade of 1970s, the charismatic and the most popular political leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto gave a very impressive manifesto of his People’s Party. But after coming to power he destroyed the emerging economy of Pakistan by his callous but deliberate policy of nationalization of private industries , banks and more than 60 percent unnecessary and irrational devaluation of the currency. It killed the sprit of entrepreneurial class to introduce new technologies in their industries and go far profitable innovations. The disastrous impact of Bhutto era is still all pervading in the industrial sector which is stuck at second generation technology whereas other developing countries including India and Bangladesh are using fifth generation technology. His land reforms were a total farce as he informed his feudal class in advance to transfer big chunks of their lands in the names of their kith and kin and faithful retainers for retransfer to the original owners as and when the drama of land reforms is over. The yardstick of maximum ceiling on the basis of produce index unit was also a shrewd trick to create a smoke screen in the interior Sindh and Southern Punjab about land reforms.
The PTI agenda of positive change did not satisfactorily work in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa.The policy of uniform curriculum and appointment of teachers strictly on merit have improved the quality primary and secondary education but the standard of higher education has degenerated. PTI top leadership in the province violates the merit 100 percent in the appointment of faculty in public sector universities and the same is the case in all government departments except the department of primary and secondary education. The health insurance scheme in the form of ‘Insaf Health Card’ has turned out to be a political gimmick and is counter productive exercise. Lion share of 35 percent of the financial outlay goes to the State Life Insurance at the cost of common man. The PTI government has directed the managements of MTI hospitals to give preference to the Insaf Card holder over other patients of poor families who because of no political connection do not have this facility. This discriminatory policy against the lower middle class people has created a sense of deprivation among the people and resentment in the people friendly specialist doctors. The healthcare in the Institution Based Practice in government hospitals has become very expensive. The private hospitals misuse the ceiling of medical facility in their favor and to the disadvantage of patients.
Achieving the goal of economic self reliance is a herculean task as Pakistan’s external debt has reached above$ 90 billion, exports are stagnant, and imports are rising. The country is heading towards becoming a trading nation. Creation of favorable economic environment for boosting investment is a big challenge but Imran Khan,s reputation of Mr. Clean in the international financial institutions and his popularity in Pakistani Diaspora can be instrumental to bring economic turnaround by utilizing the skills of technocrats in his party.
Large scale forestation and reforestation will mitigate the impact of climate change and agriculture emergency will steer this sector out of the current crisis of water shortages and low yield of crops.
Strengthening the federation, while ensuring provincial autonomy, is all the more essential as the objective criticism of certain legal experts on the 18th Amendment has given credence to the perception that this legislation has disturbed the federal structure of the constitution. Giving more administrative and financial powers to the provincial governments under this amendment has brought not any improvement in the life of common man. Let us hope that PTI Chairman Agenda for new Pakistan will be honestly implemented in case the party comes to power in the upcoming elections and KP model of half hearted change will not be replicated all over the country.