Wednesday, April 2, 2008

PPP 100 day plan worth anything?

When Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto took over Pakistan, it was truly a revolution. Every day there were plans, proposals, ordinances, resolutions and reforms.

Mr. Gilani's has taken over the government as a one trick pony, restoration of Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry. There is not mention of judicial reforms, jail reforms, 1000 new small claims courts, 100 new high courts, judicial training for judges, ethics programs for judges, and corruption monitoring of the judiciary.

There is no mention of "Land Reforms" and increasing the Tax Base of for the government. There is no mention of infrastructure development. There is no mention of providing "solar ovens" to the poor. No mention of wind farms.

The PEMRA ordinances have not been removed and will only be modified.

There is no mention of Rail reforms, of double tracks from Karachi to Torkham and beyond. No mention of linking Pakistan Railways to the world network of Railways. There is no mention of building small and large dams.

:. Gilani’s Plan for a future Pakistan Kashmir Watch, April 2

By Dr Abdul Ruff Colachal
Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani’s policy speech comes as a long-awaited beacon of hope for the people of Pakistan who seemed to have lost all faith in the politicians and democratic process. Gillani enumerated his policy decisions for the next 100 days after getting a unanimous vote of confidence in parliament. The prime minister has touched the right chord by taking up issues such as terrorism, independence of the media, unemployment, energy crisis, weak institutions, the role of the army, etc.
Through dialogue
Speaking in the National Assembly after taking vote of confidence, the new Pakistani premier Gilani said maintaining law and order in the country would be the top priority of his government for which terrorism needs to be rooted out. Prime Minister Gilani promised to take along all sides and work for the best interest of the country.
He called the militants to shun the path of violence and initiate dialogue with the government. The past eight years or so have amply proved that the two-pronged strategy of resorting to military means and holding or abandoning peace talks with “militants” on the instance of the US has not worked.
He vowed to strengthen the institutions and to improve law and order in the country.
Price hike and unemployment are other key problems faced by the country, the government would provide jobs to jobless, he said. To provide employment to the fresh graduates, Prime Minister announced the setting up of Literacy and Health Commission. It will also ensure employment to one person in a household. The Prime Minister said that every year one million housing units will be constructed in the country. He said all retiring government servants will be given flats or houses and the provinces have also been directed to launch similar schemes for the retired persons.
The prime minister welcomed the COAS decision of withdrawal of the on duty military officers from the civilian departments adding that it has boosted the prestige of the armed forces. He announced repealing of the draconian Pemra laws of Nov 3, 2007 adding the Parliamentary Reconciliation Committee recommendations will be introduced. He welcomed the announcement of the Chief of the Army Staff that all army personnel from the civil departments will be called back.
The steps like bringing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) under the judiciary and lifting ban on the student and trade unions will go a long way in strengthening democratic credentials of the country.
In the same way, the annulment of the Concurrent List contained in the Constitution through legislation will certainly open up a new era of provincial autonomy.
Gilani has done the right thing by announcing the abolishment of the British-era Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) laws in the tribal areas under which decisions in the region were taken by the local authorities that could not be challenged in a court.
The Prime Minister said his government will take steps for the restoration of deposed judges. As a first step, these judges have already been freed from detention.
Later, Gilani reassured the Kashmiris of Pakistn's continued support for their self-determination drive and hinted that he would pusue further the Pakistan's resolve to obtain freedom for Kashmiri patriots from occupying India. He also wants to improve ties with neighbor India.
Common man’s problems
Gilani thinks over the steps to lower the prices of daily commodities and bring relief to the common man is equally praiseworthy. For the moment, all things seem to be working right for the prime minister as the National Assembly has reposed its confidence in him. The package of political and economic reforms in the tribal areas will address many of the complaints of the local people. He said he would soon announce a special package for tribal areas to give them employment and to remove their backwardness and other social evils.
The prime minister in his landmark speech increased the support price of wheat from Rs. 510 to 625 per 40 kilograms. He announced lifting of ban on student and trade unions, while changed the status of PEMRA to make it a subsidiary of the ministry of information.
By declaring plans of five-marla housing schemes for people from the middle and lower middle class, Gilani has addressed a long-forgotten but important matter that concerns the majority of our population and forms part of the PPP manifesto. The announcements made by the prime minister have made people pin high hopes on him.
Referring to power, flour and water crises in the country, Prime Minister Gilani said these problems were not easy to tackle. He said there was a possibility of more load shedding in the country during the summer season. He would overcome the electricity shortage in the country, which at present stands at 3000 megawatt, new power units will be set up and PEPCO has been asked to issue 10 million energy saver bulbs at discounted prices. He said in the first phase of Thar Coal Project the electricity generation will be 5,000 mw which will increase to 20,000 mw in the next phase. To save the wastage of water, he added, canals will be brick lined and small dams constructed to ensure supply of water for irrigation and drinking purposes.
The much-trumpeted madrassa reforms initiated by the previous regime were not implemented in their true letter and spirit. It is hoped that this government’s efforts on this count will not end up in smoke.
As part of austerity measures, Gilani wants the budget of the Prime Minister House to be cut by 40 percent and hoped that other departments too will follow the example. The cabinet members will not use a vehicle of more than 1600 cc and they will only be allowed Economy Plus class during air travel.
For his part, Gilani has vowed to take along all political parties and work for the prosperity of the country and its people. The new government should, however, remember that this time people are not ready to bear with shallow promises made to them.The government will have to keep its promises to avert a major political crisis and thereby prevents a further blow to the people’s confidence.
It looks a promising scenario in Pakistan where the politicians are slowly shedding their mutual hatred in favor of constructive cooperation to safe guard the legitimate national interests. That is exactly what can take Pakistan to greater heights.

Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal Research Scholar,School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi can be contacted at

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