- Out of 18 issues, PPP scores zero in 17, PTI in 13, PML-N in 12.
- 12% addressed in PML-N manifesto, 7% in PPP, 1.5% in PTI.
- Manifestos evaluated based on actual reform interventions.
ISLAMABAD: A recent evaluation by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) revealed that less than 20% of the country’s critical issues were addressed in the manifestos of three major political parties, The News reported Tuesday.
PIDE has compared the manifestos of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) — three major parties that have historically been at the forefront of forming governments in the last three terms.
The objective is to ascertain whether the manifestos contain substantive and well-thought-out plans or if they are merely filled with empty promises and broad declarations lacking groundwork for the future.
PIDE, which is an affiliate of the planning commission, has long been advocating for reforms in various dimensions. These reform proposals are the result of extensive research and evidence-based strategies, aligned with global best practices.
The institute has identified 18 crucial issues/sectors considered fundamental, including local government, parliament, elections, cabinet, police, bureaucracy, budget-making, debt management, PSDP, real estate, agriculture, energy, taxation, tariffs, trade, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and the internet. Each area has been scored with a maximum of 100 points.
The PPP scores zero in 17 indicators, the PTI in 13, and the PML-N in 12. Overall, the analysis indicates that the three major political parties have addressed less than 20% of Pakistan’s key economic and policy issues in their manifestos.
Further scrutiny of the 20% reveals that out of the country’s key issues, only 12% have been addressed in the PML-N manifesto, 7% in the PPP manifesto, and a mere 1.5% in PTI.
‘Lack of substantive content’
The findings highlight the lack of substantive content in the manifestos concerning the critical issues faced by the nation. They suggest that the political parties lack a clear blueprint for action if they assume power.
The absence of substantive content in manifestos results in a short-sighted approach to governance, characterised by ad-hocism and serving vested interests, neglecting the imperative for long-term national development.
For instance, the promise to strengthen local government is marked as zero. However, proposing the property tax regime as the primary revenue generator for local government is recognised as a concrete point, receiving a score of 25.
PIDE arrives at these scores by summarising its proposals into four points for each theme, giving equal weightage to each point (25%), summing up to 100% for all four points. The institute then compares these points with what each political party proposed concerning the same theme. If the manifestos include one of the points proposed by PIDE, the score will be 25/100. If all proposed points align, the manifesto will receive full marks (100/100).
It’s crucial to note that manifestos have been evaluated based on actual reform interventions rather than mere promises, slogans, or sweeping statements.
Disparity between pre-poll promises, online discourse post-election
Moreover, in another research piece, PIDE examines if there is coherence between what has been mentioned in the manifestos and the digital narratives by party leaders. The striking disparity between pre-election promises and the online discourse post-election, as revealed by PIDE, indicates a significant disconnect.
The analysis underscores a critical neglect of fundamental issues such as economic disparities, infrastructure, unemployment, education, healthcare, governance, corruption, security, environment, and human rights — on digital platforms by party leaders, which are vital for the country’s progress.
X, formerly Twitter, identified as a potent influencer in shaping political conversations, remains significantly underutilised in addressing Pakistan’s socio-economic challenges. Using Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) to analyse tweets of the mentioned party leaders from 2018 to 2022, PIDE finds no alignment between the vision outlined in manifestos and the discourse.
The comprehensive analysis brings to light a troubling trend in the online discourse of opposition leaders: The leadership of the PPP and PML-N are predominantly focused on family legacies and political conflicts.
The discussions by PTI’s leaders primarily centres around Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, overshadowing other critical national concerns. This emphasises the lack of focus and commitment from the country’s top political leadership.
PIDE’s plea to align political discourse with manifesto commitments underscores the urgency for leaders to prioritise substantial policy matters for Pakistan’s development and prosperity. Manifestos should not remain as mere paper promises; they should guide the nation’s trajectory, offering a clear roadmap for governing parties and presenting feasible policy alternatives for the opposition.
The institute stresses the need to shift discussions from personal grievances, familial legacies, and political mudslinging towards tangible policy matters. It urges leaders to reorient discussions and leverage social media tools for more focused, relevant, and policy-oriented communication to address the perpetual challenges faced by Pakistan