PPP unveils populist manifesto

Islamabad: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) this week unveiled its “comprehensive” manifesto highlighting the party’s vision for sustainable and inclusive development with a focus on economic uplift, climate resilience, poverty alleviation and women empowerment.

The party’s vice president, Senator Sherry Rehman, unveiled the 64-page document Chuno Nai Soch Ko—vote for new ideas—during a media briefing held at the PPP’s office in the federal capital.

Rehman stated that the ten-point economic agenda, launched in the early part of their election campaign by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, had formed the heart of the new thinking on creating a social contract with the people of Pakistan.

On December 27, Bilawal had announced his ten-points, promising that if elected to power, the PPP would increase salaries two fold within a span of five years; provide free solar energy of up to 300 units to the underprivileged; establish green energy parks in every district; implement projects aimed at improving education with a focus on achieving universal education.

The PPP chief had also vowed to ensure free healthcare services for all throughout Pakistan; construct three million houses for individuals affected by floods and those living in poverty; broaden the BISP scope, institute a programme similar to the BISP for farmers.

According to Rehman, these points announced by Bilawal earlier have not been just thrown together to create a manifesto without a plan to implement the cross-cutting themes.

“Instead, [the manifesto is] bolstered by thought leadership on how to use the economic space to fund the people’s agenda for strategic re-sets of our human capital and resources to grow and add value to change the lives of our citizens,” she said.

Divided into thirteen chapters dealing with economic empowerment, education, healthcare, women’s rights, social protection, human rights, democracy, rule of law, food security, energy, climate change and foreign policy, the manifesto claims to be a plan to build an inclusive Pakistan.

Explaining the document, Rehman underlined that the economic instability and recurrent climate catastrophes have further plummeted the financial strength of the masses. The PPP is advocating for progressive taxation and public welfare and believes in inclusive growth-promoting partnerships.

“The PPP has the same vision, as it has rolled out climate-resilient housing for the flood-affected in Sindh with the ownership of women. Women are being empowered through increased social security safety nets through BISP,” she said.

The PPP vice president said the PPP had chartered a public economic agreement through this manifesto, which does not adjudicate business as usual but rather comes up with concrete and out-of-the-box proposals for the uplift of the downtrodden and economically and socially battered factions of society.

She said the manifesto outlines a comprehensive plan for inclusive development and transformative change, centering on economic gains anchored in social justice.”

“After extensive consultations with all regions of the country as well as civil society stakeholders and experts, the PPP has launched its manifesto for 2024.

“[It carries] a clear message for inclusion and transformational change based on prioritizing economic gains premised on social justice, the creation of employment opportunities, and a strong focus on providing both growth and relief to the most vulnerable sections of the population,” she added.

Rehman said the PPP will incentivize entrepreneurs and encourage public-private partnerships for creating and governing substantive health and education initiatives for quality services that reach all.

“We will seek to put a burden on those who can afford it. It’s time for strategic re-sets, and we are ready to harness the clean energy of local solar parks, divert wasteful spending, and create a Pakistan that grows and adds value to change the lives of our citizens.’’

In discussing the imperative of inclusive economic growth, she emphasized that investments must be encouraged and enabled to ensure the benefits of growth reach every stratum of society.

“Resources have to be mobilized to give way for distribution that is fair, for the labor and women and farmers that turn the wheels of our country to earn a decent, living wage and not just become destitute or victims of health traumas and climate disasters overnight to eke out a subsistence living that leaves children malnourished, with a high percentage still prey to disease and stunting,” she said.

She added that, as mentioned in the manifesto, the party will ensure that all Pakistanis can send their children to good local schools, and make sure that healthcare is available to all for free.”

The focus on young people, women, and the socially disadvantaged, with incentives, support, and an enabling environment for change, has been a core theme for creating prosperity in Pakistan by flattening social pyramids and empowering the growing numbers of the vulnerable and the poor in the country,” she said.

“There is a clear vision for addressing the challenges the future will hold both at home and abroad. With the approaching date of February 8, it is hoped that the masses will rally behind the Pakistan Peoples Party’s young leadership for a transformative change,” she said.