KARACHI: With reserving 50 percent seats for women, bringing agriculture sector under tax net and holding local bodies' polls, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) unveiled what it calls its 'people empowering' manifesto for the forthcoming general elections on Monday.
The party program for next five years was made public by Deputy Convener MQM Coordination Committee, Dr Farooq Sattar, its member Nasreen Jalil and others at Nine Zero.
Addressing a press conference, Dr Sattar said that MQM believed the circumstances of the poor and middle-class people cannot change unless sending leadership from within themselves to the elected houses.
"We believe that only those people can understand and solve the problems being faced by the people who have themselves faced those problems in their lives" he said, adding, those who have not faced any problems in their lives can neither understand nor find solutions for the problems that are faced by the people.
The long struggle of Altaf Hussain, spanning over a period of 35 years, and the electoral history of the MQM, bear testimony to the fact that the MQM wants to include the people at the grassroots level in the political process by demolishing the culture of dynastic politics, he said.
"The MQM is working for empowering these people at the grassroots level and it is with this cherished objective that the MQM is giving the slogan of "Empower the People" for its manifesto drawn for elections 2013" he said.
Calling his manifesto the voice of the 98 per cent deprived and disadvantaged people of the country, Sattar shared the salient points of the manifesto prepared by the MQM "for the purpose of solving the problems of the people of Pakistan including abolition of dual systems of education and bringing Urdu-medium institutions at par with English-medium institutions".
He said budgetary allocation for education would be raised from 2.2 per cent to 5 per cent of the GDP and an outlay of 20 per cent would be reserved for education in the provincial budget. Sattar said religious seminaries would be brought in the mainstream system of education.
Sattar said budgetary allocation for providing better healthcare facilities would be increased from 0.6 per cent to 5 per cent of the GDP while hospitals would be built in tehsils, districts and villages for making health facilities accessible to all.
"Training institutions would be established in each district for nurses and other paramedical staff" he said, adding, low cost insurance policies would be introduced.
He said prices of oil, petrol and other items would be gradually reduced for controlling inflation and improving the standard of living of common people. "Energy crisis would be solved and the issue of circular debt in the power sector would be resolved" said Sattar.
The principle of "no representation without taxation" would be adhered and agrarian income would be made taxable and its collection would be ensured, he said
The party also promised to improve the administrative working of PIA, PSO, Pakistan Railways, and PEPCO besides making investment in the microfinance sector in urban centres.
Sattar said single administrative agency would be established in each city and district that would work under an elected city or district nazim. "Traffic management will be taken back from the police department and it will be brought under the control of city or district governments" he added.
The MQM leader said they would introduce agrarian reforms while a limit will be placed on maximum land holdings of an individual. "The surplus land would be distributed among landless peasants and farmers" he said.
MQM has also promised to bring all secret funds at the disposal of President, PM, CMs and ambassadors under public scrutiny through the Public Accounts Committee. Sattar said provincial accountability bureaus would be established on the line of the National Accountability Bureau working at the federal level.
The party has also promised the formulation of a National Terrorism Policy in consultation with elected representatives, police, bureaucracy and the armed forces for eliminating the scourge of terrorism from the country. Sattar said the production of arms, its trade and illegal movements would be stopped in order to make Pakistan free from arms. The bill submitted by MQM in the National Assembly on 16th January would be passed for this purpose, he added.
All discriminatory laws against women and religious minorities would be eliminated while women would be given equal opportunities in every field of life including equal employment opportunities. "Women will be given 50 per cent representation in the parliament and provincial assemblies" said Sattar.
"Projects will be undertaken to ensure the supply of natural gas and electricity from Iran, Qatar and Central Asian Republics" he said while underlining the importance of energy for the country.
"LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) plants and gas processing plants will be installed", he added.
"Local government institutions are nursery of democracy, hence a system of local government will be established and power and resources will be devolved to the grassroots level" he said, adding, local governments would be given full autonomy while election of the local government system would be held within three months after general polls.
The Constitution would be amended to lift the bar on overseas Pakistanis having dual nationalities from taking part in elections. The constitutional right to vote of overseas Pakistanis would be protected, he said.
"The foreign policy of the country will be free and sovereign" said MQM leader, adding, friendly and cordial relations would be established with all countries particularly the neighboring countries. He said the Kashmir dispute would be resolved through meaningful and genuine dialogues according to the wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.