Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui on Saturday announced the party’s manifesto for the upcoming general elections. The manifesto titled ‘Empowered Pakistan’ focuses on the devolution of power from central level to local bodies and proposes the creation of new provinces. Key points of the manifesto are: Devolution of power; Empowerment of local bodies; Creation of new administrative units; Transforming traditional democracy into participatory democracy; Establishing unity of command; Curbing money laundering and adopting realistic economic goals; Easy access to basic facilities; New administrative units within provinces. MQM-P proposes the creation of new provinces or ‘administration units’ within Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan ‘for delivery of effective services to the people and more importantly for a balance[d] growth of all regions simultaneously’.
The newly released manifesto also repeats the party’s core demand for the empowerment of local body governments. While announcing the key points of the manifesto, Siddiqui said Pakistan was in dire need of good governance and claimed that decentralisation of power will improve the country’s system. ‘The demand [for devolution of power] is in accordance with the Constitution,’ Siddiqui said and referred to Article 140 of the Constitution, that concerns the local government.
According to Article 140, all ‘political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority’ must be devolved to elected representatives of local governments. MQM-P proposes ‘full empowerment’ of representatives of local bodies and to abolish the ‘unnatural six districts of Karachi’ thus restoring the city to its ‘fully autonomous metropolitan corporation’ status. The party expresses its belief that the country’s ‘traditional democracy’ should be transformed into ‘participatory democracy’, in order to end discriminatory allocation of distribution funds, recruitment of candidates without merit, postings and transfers of ‘blue-eyed boys [of those in power] against key jobs’ etc.
To ensure that power is more evenly distributed, the party proposes a change in electoral laws to make them more inclusive, elimination of quota system, increase in forums for youth and women at tehsil level to ensure their participation etc. The MQM-P’s manifesto also proposes provision and easy access to basic facilities like health and education for the masses. The manifesto also addresses the economic challenges being faced by the country, including Pakistan’s placement on Financial Action Task Force’s ‘grey list’.
It proposes measures to ensure an improvement in the economy in coming years, including increased checks and balances on ‘agents who are helping the unscrupulous big businesses to indulge in money laundering’. It urges future authorities to stop setting ‘artificial targets ‘ for growth and instead adopt a ‘pragmatic approach’ to ‘ease the situation’.