Possibly the most significant document used by political parties to engage ideologically with voters is their electoral manifesto. It outlines the goals and plans that political parties hope to achieve if they win elections and advance their larger economic, cultural, and political agendas. Voters may utilise the manifesto to hold party leaders accountable for their crimes of commission and omission and to remind them of their pledges to the electorate once the elections are over. However, because Pakistani politics are so erratic, nearly all parties produce manifestos that are largely meaningless and serve more as formalities than as a detailed outline of the policies they genuinely want to put into action. It makes sense that a policy report published by the government-run Pakistan Institute of Development Economics found that the PPP, PTI, and PML-N’s previous election manifestos were insufficient and that they neglected to include important macroeconomic, constitutional, and social issues. The political parties’ lack of “any concrete blueprint to work on if they are voted into power” is indicated by this, highlighting their ad hocism and subordination to special interests, all of which jeopardise Pakistan’s long-term growth.
Similarly, an examination of the leaders of these parties’ social media discourse between 2018 and 2022 reveals that they infrequently address important topics and party stances on matters as stated in their election manifestos. Their whole political speech is centred on their personal grievances, family legacies, and petty criticism of the ruling class. It follows that the increasing number of individuals losing faith in politics in general and the voting process in particular is not surprising. Pide academics have so correctly counselled political parties to match their messaging with their pledge to voters prior to the election. Political parties and their leaders have a great opportunity to regain the trust of the electorate by explaining to them through their election platforms what solutions they have for Pakistan’s numerous and interconnected economic, constitutional, and social problems and how they plan to carry them out. Voters should have the opportunity to make an informed decision about which party they believe is most qualified to steer the nation out of its current predicament, given that we are facing one of the worst financial, political, and social crises in memory.