It is now four years since the PML-N won the last election and time to look at a report card with the party manifesto as the baseline — and the results are unsatisfactory. Viewed with hindsight the manifesto was boldly reformist. There was evidence that the party was looking beyond a single term and had done the preparatory work, setting up — allegedly — sub-committees across a range of sectors that would put the detail on cost estimates for the agenda post to the projected 2018 victory. Periodic reviews of progress were planned. And very little has actually materialised. There have been no periodic reports and, looking closer, not much progress on key reforms either.
Top of the list of failures come the reforms of the civil service, a ‘transformation’ of public service. The proposed package of 24 reforms was never once considered by the cabinet. Also up for a shake-up were state owned enterprises which haemorrhage money by the billion every month. They for the most part remain as liabilities rather than assets. Police reforms were on the list, particularly their depoliticisation. If the shenanigans in Sindh regarding the upper echelons of the police are anything to go by that has gone out of the window as well. There was a promise to raise the tax-to-GDP ratio to 15 per cent by 2018. Today it is below 11 per cent. Tax collection per capita of the population has gone down. Education — funding overall reduced. Corruption and accountability — a zero-tolerance was announced as was the formation of a National Accountability Commission. Which never happened.
The list of failings to meet advertised targets goes on. To be scrupulously fair the government did work on some reforms in the justice system but these ran into the sand as well, killed off by inertia. Seasoned watchers of politics know that party manifestos are often little more than wish-lists and there is little expectation that they will be fulfilled in total or in part. That said the PML-N came to power on a platform of reform and four years in there is precious little reform to be seen. ‘Do better next time’ is at the bottom of the report card.