LAHORE - There is not much new in the manifesto eleven important points of which were announced by Imran Khan at the PTI’s well-attended Sunday night rally at the historic Minar-i-Pakistan.
All parties come up with such attractive promises before the election, but once they get an opportunity to come to power they just forget about their pledges to the electorate and start working on new agendas that serve their personal interests better. Projects given priority are not mentioned in their manifesto – and the ones mentioned therein are put on the backburner.
This means that mere announcements made by the PTI chairman are not enough. His real test will be whether he honours his words if people vote his party to power (which may or may not be possible for anyone to foretell at this juncture because of the unpredictability of the hands that play a decisive role in the change of governments). Assuming that the luck favours him and he is in the decision-making position, he will need a team of committed party leaders to frame policies in accordance with his stated goals. Turncoats from various parties who have gathered around him close to the election cannot be expected to perform the task. Such people are adept in changing loyalties with the changing political weather and thus cannot be trusted. They will be faithful to Imran Khan only to the extent they were their previous parties.
Many think that the PTI’s identity has been compromised with the grasshoppers’ unrestricted entry in the party and now Imran Khan will never be able to honour his commitments to the electorate. Let’s wait for some more time to see how the situation unfolds.
Now, coming to some of the commitments the PTI chairman made at the rally.
It’s true that corruption is one of the most serious problems plaguing the country. Successive governments have failed to control it. In fact, the menace has grown with the passage of time, claims to the contrary made by the sitting rulers notwithstanding. Nobody can get any work done from any department – no matter how genuine – without greasing the relevant palms. If some individuals don’t like to fill their stomachs with hellfire, they are exceptions.
The culprits involved in corruption must be awarded capital punishment to really extirpate the ‘disease’.
A law should be enacted to make corruption of certain amount punishable with death. Through the same legislation the courts should be bound to decide such cases in a few weeks and the convicts should not have more than one right to appeal.
Unless such a deterrent step is taken, corruption would continue to decide merit and eligibility standards in the Islamic republic.
Imran Khan’s announcement that he would not give development funds to the legislators is appreciable. But he must bear in mind that these funds are the real attraction for them. Legislators are in politics mostly because of these funds and their ability to get things done from various departments on account of their status.
Any party confining the role of legislators to lawmaking will be doing a great service to the nation and the system. But at the same time it should be clear that those addicted to commissions and kickbacks in government projects would not like to stay in the assembly even for a day.
Before talking of election of mayors through a direct vote, the PTI should talk of a prime minister elected through direct vote.
Leave aside the requirements of the parliamentary system as they are not divine, the head of government should be chosen by people from across the country. A person elected by just a simple majority of the MNAs is not the legitimate representative of the country. A leader can get such majority simply by buying loyalties of MPs of a single province – Punjab, for example, which plays a decisive role - with no roots in other federating units.
Leaders aspiring for the top post should contest election against one another. This means that if there is no other legal bar, Mian Shehbaz Sharif, Imran Khan and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari should face one another as heads of their respective parties. The MMA boss can also jump in the race if he feels he stands a chance.
The above-mentioned methodology cannot be invoked unless some constitutional amendments are made by the bicameral legislature. But the aspirants for the coveted office must give it a serious thought at some other time. This will provide the prime ministerial candidates an opportunity to gauge their standing among the people.
Elections are expected to be held in July, by which time the flock of turncoats in the PTI will grow in strength.