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SOURCE: PTI

Focus on bringing Pakistan’s economy back on track, the message of peace to India, a vow to combat climate change, and zero-tolerance towards terrorism are the highlights of the manifesto unveiled by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s party on Saturday.

With less than two weeks before the February 8 general elections, Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) manifesto promises to send a “message of peace” to other countries, including India, on the condition that New Delhi revert its August 2019 action on Kashmir, Dawn.com reported, quoting the manifesto.

India has told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir is an inalienable and integral part of the country. Article 370, which was abrogated by India’s Parliament in 2019, is entirely a matter of India as well as its Constitution, the Ministry of External Affairs has reiterated previously. The manifesto also vows to combat the impacts of climate change and a “zero-tolerance policy” towards terrorism, it said.
The other agendas on the PML-N’s table include a “secured water future” and “add life to the economy through exports”. Released at a special event here in the provincial capital of Punjab, the PML-N later shared the detailed manifesto titled ‘Pakistan ko Nawaz do’ on its official X account.

“If voted to power, the party vowed to provide the public with cheap and increased electricity as well as speedy development. Its promises include a 20 to 30 per cent reduction in power bills, a 15,000 megawatt-increase in electricity production, and a 10,000 MW production of solar energy,” the Dawn newspaper reported.

The party has vowed to ensure youth representation in national politics through parliament, and provincial and local governments and also said, it aims to restore student unions, expand the National Youth Scheme, allocate funds for IT start-ups and increase youth entrepreneurship. It also promised to establish Pakistan’s first sports university and 250 stadiums and academies along with youth skills development.

A plan to bring constitutional, legal, judicial and administrative reforms; combating violence against minorities; modernising agriculture, and making women independent apart from introducing a new labour policy to ensure their rights were also mentioned in the document.

The other promises include the abolition of the National Accountability Bureau and bringing in comprehensive amendments to the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, and Criminal Procedure Code, 1898 to standardise the procedural laws. The manifesto also said court proceedings will be telecast live if the party is elected, according to The News International newspaper.
Sharif termed it a “strange coincidence” that despite him being ousted as the prime minister in 2017 and “political vendettas” against the PML-N, his party members were once again “preparing to contest elections and presenting their manifesto.” The former three-time prime minister also added that he neither intended to “express his grievances” nor was “in a mood to complain today.” In an indirect reference to former prime minister Imran Khan, he said, “If I was there in the previous government instead of the person who you saw, I would have never done what he did.” Criticising the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party that formed a government following the 2018 elections, Sharif said Khan’s regime broke the poor people’s back through inflation and cut off the electricity. Sharif claimed that electricity was never cut off during his rule.

Sharif also recalled the PML-N’s previous tenures, saying there was “no inflation” back then. Pakistan is in economic ruin and awaiting a monumental financial default without long overdue structural reforms sought by global creditors such as the IMF and the World Bank, along with bilateral partners like China and the UAE.

The primary reason behind Pakistan’s economic woes is its staggering debt levels, which, as of 2023, amount to nearly USD 125 billion owed to external creditors, with approximately one-third to China.