A nation in a state of perpetual mourning for decades had its prayers heard last night. Regardless of the outcomes, irrespective of the realization of the future envisioned, Pakistanis were in awe of the sincerity with which those words were spoken. We, as a nation, collectively witnessed a leader whose sole interest seemed to be the interest of his country. His words alone healed the perforated existence of Pakistan—a blood-soaked country repeatedly raped by those who have been in power for the past so many years.
The historic maiden speech of Prime Minister, Imran Khan, was aired on 19 August 2018 at 9.30pm on Sunday, through national television, PTV.
More than the prime minister’s dry and mundane addresses with the latent political vendetta for opposition parties and institutions of Pakistan, specifically, Pakistan’s army; Khan’s address was more of parental talk with reassuring conviction in the fact that despite a critically impaired situation, we can still revive ourselves. We can still breathe anew, start afresh.
Khan guaranteed massive changes with an attention on shielding Pakistan’s assets and their redistribution from the rich to the poor—a progressive taxation system which shall cater to the basic needs and the basic right of the citizens of Pakistan in alignment with the vision of Quaid-e-Azam.
There were many whom he lost along the way in his struggle to reach to the point where he is at right now. Nothing was dished out to him, nothing was easy. Khan started his historic address by remembering the struggle of those PTI pioneering members who are no longer with us.
The next point he ventured into was the legislative issue and supremacy of law far above individual interests and petty gains as envisioned by the founding father of the nation—Quaid-e-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and by our national poet, Allama Mohammad Iqbal. One of the finest Muslim minds he drew his inspiration from, always.
Khan, at that point, proceeded onward to recognizing Pakistan’s enormous monetary difficulties with immediate and long-term remedial measures to combat. The thought which haunts him, unlike his predecessors, and must haunt all of us is the fact that we are in a debt of Rs. 28 trillion, highest in the history of Pakistan.
In addition to it, and in fact as a remedial measure complementary to the foregoing issue, he focused on the stunted growth of the children of Pakistan by showing an ultrasonic image of two embryos in mothers’ wombs; a comparative reference to emphasize the fact that we are not providing enough nutrition to expecting mothers to carry healthy pregnancies. That symbolic moment, when he showed those images reflected how deep he thinks for his nation, just like a parent. Taking care of the issues right from the mother’s womb. There are 45% of babies who are born with the stunted growth. Khan wants to nourish his people right from the beginning.
He also focused on the fact that our human resource development index is likewise “in the doldrums”. Citing from a United Nations report, PM laid out inadequacies in Pakistan’s human development, taking note of that: “We are sadly among the five nations where baby mortality is due to the unavailability of clean water.”
He also lamented the fact that we have an astounding mortality ratio of expecting mothers which can be resolved with adequate medical facility and proper nutrient intake.
At this point, Khan indicated the distinction and huge gaps in the lifestyles of Pakistan’s rich and poor.
Khan went ahead to compare how lavishly public office-holders lived with hundreds of staff members, hundreds of expensive vehicles, helicopters and airplanes at their disposal to move them around. All this pomp and show has been maintained for decades by previous governments at the expense of taxpayers and IMF and World Bank loans.
How bizarre it is, he asked, that: “On one hand we don’t have the cash to spend on our children, and on the other, we have individuals living like sovereign aces with unquestionable authority to exploit the resources the way they want, whenever they want.
Admonishing the rich and the advantaged to reassess their needs, he asked: “We should be humane towards those individuals who can’t bear to eat two times per day. We must ask what will happen to the 25 million youngsters who are out of school. Where will they end? We must gauge the end result of our reckless actions which our future generation shall bear.
And the next was environmental change on his list. He added we shall be among those seven countries to be highly affected by the climate change. And we need solid policies to attend to this problem.
Khan would overhaul the debilitating state of affair in Pakistan by following the administrative model put forth by the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), Khan emphasized, Arabs, the Bedouins, stood tall and high among the leading empires of those early Islamic days in history just by holding onto the spirit of Quran and the teaching of Prophet (Peace be Upon Him).
Khan, meanwhile, continued to give a five-point plan:
- Law: Supremacy and uniformity of law for everyone.
- Zakat: He told that this is the progressive tax system in which the rich pay to sponsor poor people. Scandinavian countries, best in civilization, are enriched with the culture of human services and, we should draw the example of such social setups where class system is not there to suppress the disadvantaged and to empower the rich.
- Compassion & Empathy: We need to be human enough to treat animals with kindness and care.
- Merit: The fourth is to honor merit without compromise, without exception. And in order to reinstate merit, the leader must be Sadiq and Amin (truthful & honest).
- Education: Last but the most important one on his list was education and especially, technical one. He drew the example from the Battle of Badr and emphasized that our Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), immensely preferred training.
What Khan missed in this list of five points:
- Women Rights & Women Empowerment: A country where honor killing is a tradition, acid attacks have become a norm, this is more than important to address to this grave issue.A country where schools are torched to prohibit girls from continuing their education demands from its PM for serious measures to be in taken in this area as well. And articulate the resentment towards it.
- Power Shortage: Khan duly covered water crisis, economic reforms, corruption but missed to articulate the power issue which is as important as other issues he highlighted.
While explaining all the challenges ahead, he asked his people to muster up courage by stating that we are in this together, and shall devise an effected exit plan out these gigantic problems together.
Tax Reforms Instead of Loans: Khan explained that with effective and sustainable tax reforms we shall be able to get rid of the loans.
He also prompted non-residential Pakistanis (NRPs) to contribute to Pakistan. This is not the first time, Khan has appealed to the NRPs for funding. He did it earlier many times for Shaukat Khanum and for Numul and now for the exchequer. Rest assured, he would succeed this time as well. There will be an office dedicated for expat money in the PM office.
He also ensured to root out the corruption which is the very cancer this nation is dying of—mother of all evils. And in order to do so, he also ensured to fix all the inherent problem plaguing the law institutions of Pakistan such as NAB, FIA, Police, and others. The example which he has set in KP will be implemented in rest of Pakistan as well. “I will meet the NAB director and encourage him with whatever he needs,” he said. “We will likewise establish a law for informants as we did in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Whoever recognizes defilement will get an offer of the cash that we recoup. The SECP and the FIA will be settled on a mutual premise for that, he further added.
Khan has kept the FIA and the other internal services under him so that there are no backdoor pressure antics exercised by the corrupt for the corrupt.
On transforming the budgetary division, Khan clarified that as opposed to attempting to reconstruct the economy by means of outer aids, his legislature will attempt and satisfy its requirements from within. Khan is determined to rebuild from the inside.
No nation can survive by trillion of debt under its belt, he said. “Loans and debts are taken for brief timeframes. We can’t go in transit the way we have been in for the past one decade. What’s more is to understand the fact that with loans and debts comes the conditions of those who give you money. And this situation directly and severely impacts the foreign and defense policies of a country.
Khan further said that he would be embarrassed to travel to another country and request cash. Instead of begging, we need to focus on cutting down the expense.
He talked of a unifying educational policy to cement the foundation of this nation and declared an educational emergency in Pakistan.
While others left us to die off by illegal, immoral, unethical practices of the few chosen ones, Khan is not willing to give up, to let us fade away, to let us wither away. He is holding onto us, and we onto him.