National Elections 2018 are knocking our doors. The Election dates are likely to be announced after June 2018 when a caretaker Government will take over in July this year. Major political parties participating in the Elections will present their manifestoes & seek votes on their basis as well as their performance records. The eligible voters in Pakistan have now gained better awareness of their rights & responsibilities, thanks to our electronic & print media. Pakistan, like many other country in the World is confronted with host of problems & issues. Hopefully, the major political parties will address those issues in their manifestos which should become basis of their accountability in times to come. Key issues confronting the Nation currently are as follows which need to be covered in Manifestoes of responsible National Parties.

Mitigating and retiring the mounting national debt which is well over 70bn $ & is continuously rising. It is seriously effecting the national budget and consequent welfare of the people with own resources. A big chunk of our annual receipts goes to debt servicing. Even we have to further borrow to pay annual debt instalment. In fact, this also threatens our independence as a nation.

*Rising current account deficit.

*Eliminating terrorism completely

*Reforming civil services & eliminating ‘Babu Culture’ & redtapism.

*Curbing corruption

*Low literacy rate. Millions of children are without schooling.

*Poor Health Facilities.

*Non availability of clean water.

*Deteriorating infrastructure.

*Judicial Reforms

*Electoral Reforms

In addition to these key areas, there are many other issues like law & order improvements etc. In fact, Manifestoes of all Political Parties contesting national Elections 2018 should be posted on the website of Election Commission of Pakistan for accountability of the Parties by voters. This would go a long way for the Parties to comply with their declared Manifestoes rather seriously.

Some details of the key issues mentioned above are discussed as follows:

A Debt Freedom Plan is sine qua non. Responsible parties must present plan to get rid of national debt the soonest. Out-of-the-box solutions are urgently needed in the National Budgets before their final approval. To be backed by a strong political will, a high powered Experts Advisory Group for Debt Mitigation needs to be set up to prepare a necessary reform package on short and long term measures and to oversee effective implementation, otherwise Public Debt freedom will remain a dream for a long time, threatening our political independence. Turkey in a shining example of debt freedom to emulate.

Likewise, our national economy should be largely made an exports driven economy with zero current account deficit. This needs massive reforms by the Federal Government.

It is highly imperative to put the national economy on a high economic growth path in real terms based on actual and advanced productivity trajectories in each sector of the national economy. The following parameters will have to be addressed through massive reforms, coupled with short term and long term action plans free of “babu culture” and with a strong political will at the top to implement them. These factors alone can generate real wealth for the national economy to pay off the current public debt liabilities in a few years and make Pakistan economically self reliant in the very near future.

Prevailing ‘Babu Culture’ is the core area that eats away the effects of all good policies and plans. Bangladesh, on independence, drastically changed the old complex procedures breeding red-tapism and corruption. Services reforms based on results achievements and market orientation, are needed to meet the challenges of mass welfare, accountability and freedom from corruption. About forty percent of the budget is wasted through red-tapism, delayed and costs escalated projects and corruption. This needs drastic reforms.

Agricultural and industrial productivity growth with high value addition is the most vital need to add real national wealth. Fast track GDP growth strategies and implementation plans are sine qua non to high growth targets achievements. In this connection, the roles of agricultural and industrial productivity indices are very vital. Presently these parameters are very low in our national economy. This requires necessary reforms package and pragmatic policies to enhance productivity levels in agriculture and industry. The present National Productivity Organisation needs to be strengthened and reorganised professionally. Cost of production needs to be cut through modern technologies. Innovation and technology up-gradation are needed, based on international models. Research and Development plays a massive role in boosting industrial and agricultural productivity.

Massive industrialisation: Aggressive industrialisation policies are needed to be launched in the SME sectors and large industries focusing on exports orientation. PML-N Government in the past launched a rural industrialisation program which needs to be relaunched with updated an approach. This alone would help achieve high growth targets. It would be advisable to set up public sector companies to ensure the fast track implementation of industrialisation programs based on simplified procedures and updated methodologies.

Corruption: Corruption eats away a sizeable chunk of our national resources and adversely effect public welfare policies through red-tapism. It can be checked through reforms and by using intelligence agencies as well. However honest and good political leadership, efficient accountability framework and an effective parliamentary system alone can minimise corruption.

Agricultural Reforms: Agriculture is the mainstay of our economy. On the basis of consultation with all stake holders and agricultural experts, comprehensive agriculture Reforms Policies need to be introduced with the following objectives;

a- To achieve higher per acre yields.

b- To improve quality of agricultural products.

c- To boost exports.

d- To introduce new crops.

e- Farmer empowerment and training.

f- To strengthen the Agriculture Extension Programs to reach the farmers effectively.

The Manifestoes of the coming Election 2018 need to spell out their detailed plans on all the key issues listed earlier above, otherwise it will be deemed by voters that our national political parties are least interested in solving our real national problems.