LAHORE - Looking at the media coverage of the three mainstream parties -  PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf), PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League Noon) and PPP (Pakistan People’s party) - taking part in general elections 2018 scheduled for July 25, a fact can easily be gauged that these parties are discussing more or less the same issues and ignoring some significant problems faced by the country.

The exact same issues are being discussed over and over again, such as the creation of South Punjab in PTI’s agenda or PPP’s focus on social welfare policies. Digging a little deeper into actual promises and vows that the parties are making, and whether there are any significant issues that either main political parties deem unimportant or the media fails to highlight. 

The topics that contributed majority of the manifestos were largely the same - steps or policies will be introduced for economic reforms regarding trade, infrastructure and information technology integration. All three parties also discussed their intent to restructure the federation through either creating the new province of South Punjab, the enactment of the FATA-KP merger or increasing the power of the local governments in an attempt to better administer resources. The other main focus of the three manifestos promised easy and affordable access to clean water, healthcare and sustenance for millions of destitute Pakistanis.

They all put a decent priority upon the various education sectors; such as higher education making sure more individuals had access to quality education. These things were, apart from policy changes, exactly the same in each party’s manifestos.

Moving onto the differences, PPP’s manifesto centers the first half of their agenda around providing free or affordable access to basic human rights not talked about by the other parties. A large segment of this was their focus on a housing programme for the underprivileged. Furthermore, they were unique in their promises regarding the sexual health and awareness of their citizens. The second half of their agenda focuses on socio-political issues that plague this country. They prioritized the social wellbeing of minorities ensuring equal representation of minorities in all aspects of life. Notably they are the only party that addressed the frequent misuse of blasphemy law to exact vengeance upon an individual without due cause or bothered to address the terrible circumstances that both trans-genders and transvestites find themselves in due to our society.

Whereas PTI’s manifesto emphasizes more on the issue of lack of jobs available to Pakistanis and an extensive re-structuring of the national security policies of Pakistan. The first half of the manifesto focuses on how they are planning to allow for a large boost of jobs, specifically in the labour market, and their plans for revitalizing the textile and export sectors of the country. They also had an entire segment upon CPEC and how they would better take advantage of the opportunity presented to them by the international situation. PTI did actually mention global warming and a tangible green initiative, unlike PPP.

The PML-N manifesto also centres around the same broad issues as the other parties but their uniqueness came from their policies surrounding legal reforms and their battle for ensuring the free speech of journalists and the media as a whole. Although not as focused upon minorities as PPP, they did a far better job than PTI regarding policies for religious minorities and not just women. Finally, they are the only party to put any emphasis on the transport facilities Pakistan offers to its citizens.

Briefly speaking, the overall policies of the parties are rather similar. The only party that deviates from the pattern is PPP, yet even then only to a degree. Otherwise, reading the manifesto of any one party is enough to give you an idea of what the aims of all parties are, and the only deciding factor is how well do they actually enact their policies.