ISLAMABAD   -  Contrary to his known anti-US stance in the past, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan made another somersault on Monday when he said his party would have had good relations with the US, being a superpower, if it came into power as a result of July 25 election.

He also said the US was not the problem of Pakistan. Unveiling PTI manifesto 2018 and explaining his party’s priorities, Khan said, “The US is a superpower and, of course, everyone would want to have good relationship with it.” He was responding to the question what kind of relations he would maintain with US President Donald Trump and whether Pakistan could survive without the US.

The PTI chief, addressing journalists and some party workers at a local hotel, said Pakistan wanted to have good relationship with its neighbours. “Our main problem right now is not the US as it’s sort of going on cold war with India and “we believe that terrorism is coming into Pakistan via Afghanistan and originating in India,” he said, adding Pakistan’s main problem was to have stability and it would come if it had peace with its neighbours. “We have some problem as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi government is the highest aggressive and anti –Pakistan in its 70-year history.” The relations of the two countries are the worst, he said, added Pakistan’s point of view was to have good relations with its neighbours. “We will have to have good relations with the US, a superpower,” he reiterated.

On the issue of drone attacks which he opposed in the past, he said Pakistan no longer faced as much terrorism as it faced before 2014. “The problem Pakistan is facing is not drone attacks; the issue is how to implement the National Action Plan,” he said, while taking a U-turn.

About the question of taking many turncoats into its fold, Khan said that the change could only be brought through main leadership and subordinate tiers of the party had no role.

Unveiling the “PTI manifesto”, he said whosoever came into power after July 25 elections would have to face the biggest economic challenge. He added: “There are no easy solutions. Our election manifesto is based on principles of humanity and justice while following the footsteps of the state of Madina,” he said.

The major features of PTI’s manifesto include transformation of governance; strengthening the federation; economic growth, uplift of agriculture, building dams and conservation of water, revolutionising social services and ensuring Pakistan’s national security. In the manifesto, the last PTI Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has been taken as a role model. The PTI chief major reforms brought in KP would be introduced in the whole country.

The manifesto says PTI would focus on accountability of the government and give full autonomy to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and other accountability institutions and pursue all major corruption scandals regardless of political affiliations. It says PTI will empower people at the grassroots level through local government, depoliticise and strengthen police, reform the criminal justice system and provide speedy access to justice. “We will reform the civil service into a merit-based and depoliticized cadre of professionals”. The manifesto says that PTI will institutionalise e-governance practices in public administration, facilitate delivery through legislative reform (right to information, right to services), reform government procurement and ensure freedom of the press.

The manifesto says PTI will consolidate integration of Fata with KP, champion reconciliation in Balochistan, spearhead creation of a South Punjab province along administrative lines, transform Karachi, bring political and socio-economic empowerment in Gilgit-Baltistan; initiate poverty-alleviation drive across Pakistan’s poorest districts; ensure constitutional rights for minorities; promote gender parity and ensure a greater stake for overseas Pakistanis.

The manifesto adds PTI will reform Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) under the “Inclusive Growth Programme” and increase the tax net through a robust tax policy, efficient tax administration structure and effective enforcement mechanism. PTI will create 10 million jobs and strengthen the labour market, implement policy framework to build five million houses. Khan said PTI had contacted the real estate tycoon of UK, Aneel Musarrat, to uplift housing sector of the country and bring the mortgage system. “We will make new construction companies and these housing schemes will create new jobs,” he said.

The manifesto says PTI will make Pakistan business-friendly, revive manufacturing and facilitate rapid growth of SMEs, transform key economic institutions, fix Pakistan’s energy challenges, make CPEC a game changer and ensure access to finance for citizens and industry. Khan said CPEC was not a game changer, but could be made game changer.

Under the economic growth, PTI says it will boost the tourism industry, turnaround IT sector to build a knowledge economy, strengthen international trade; revitalise textile sector and boost exports.

PTI’s future programme says it would unleash Pakistan’s potential in agriculture, revamp the livestock sector; build dams, take on Pakistan’s water scarcity challenges and revive the fisheries industry.

PTI will ensure universal health coverage and enhance focus on primary care while upgrading secondary and tertiary facilities. The manifesto says PTI will transform the education sector, unleash the potential of youth, expand social safety net, provide clean drinking water for all, tackle climate change and champion green growth; create a more caring Pakistan for people with special needs, tackle the population growth challenge; and promote sports, arts and couture.

The manifesto states two dimensions of national security; external and internal. It says that there is need for structural changes as over the years the delivery of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has deteriorated as its institutional structure has failed to keep pace with demands of the changing global environments. With regard to external policies, PTI’s guiding principles will be of reciprocity, mutual interests and international norms that will govern Pakistan’s relations at the bilateral and multilateral levels.

For internal dimension of national security, the proposed document says there is need for an institutional framework to deal effectively with internal security and PTI has proposed “National Security Organization” for this purpose. “There is a need to have such an institution in which all the stakeholders can come together, strategize and oversee operationalisation of a national security policy, in a structured, organizational manner.

The manifesto says that National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) can act as the Secretariat to the National Security Organization while PM as its chairman and it should comprise of two parts; the plenary council and the specialist working group. The minister of interior should be the deputy chairman of council while ministers of finance, foreign affairs and defence as well as National Security Advisor, the chairman JCSC, COAS, CNS, CAS will be as its members. To counter terrorism, PTI will begin implementing a comprehensive internal security policy based on 4 E’s; expose, enforce, eliminate and educate.

For defence policy, the document says PTI’s defence and security policy will be made multidimensional to deal with the emerging nature of threats at multiple levels especially “the enmeshed international dimensions of the threat of terrorism. “PTI will move substantively on the bilateral strategic dialogue with India encompassing all aspects of the strategic nuclear deterrence so as to prevent a spiralling nuclear arms race in the region,” it concludes.

 

IMRAN MUKHTAR