By Sahibzada Jahangir
ON the 26th August 2021, the Prime Minister of Pakistan delivered an inspiring keynote speech, marking the three-year anniversary of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf coming to governance, in which he outlined the progress and achievements, as well as the positive outlook and vision he has for the future of Pakistan.
Khan Saab praised his team and reminisced about his parents telling him how fortunate he was to be of the first generation born into a free country whilst they had been the ‘gulam’ of Hindustan, however with independence comes responsibility.
The theme of the speech was to encourage the people of Pakistan to be proud and independent and acknowledge their self-worth, striving for the future of Pakistan. He urged the need for justice and humanity, aspects which had been absent during previous governments, whilst their leaders dance in and out of prisons. Without rule of law there could be no progress and to establish a Medina ke Riyasat, ie a just and humane system of governance, there needs to be a rule of law.
In these difficult times, during the Covid Pandemic, the World Economic Forum had singled out Pakistan to be one of the few countries which had managed to tackle the pandemic and keep its economy afloat. Imran Khan praised the Almighty for his mercy, as Pakistan could not have afforded to sink into economic despair due to the pandemic and the government made difficult and tactful decisions, which kept the economy alive and avoided the disasters seen in neighbouring India.
Khan Saab praised the army which has been the backbone of Pakistan, the brave and courageous defender of our frontiers and spoke of his hurt and upset at the “Mafia” of Pakistan, who rallied hate speeches against the armed forces promoting the narrative of our enemies. Khan Saab reminded that if you spread your hands begging, it should only be spread before Allah who is pleased to see you seeking from him, but to all others, even if one goes for a third time begging to one’s parents, one falls from grace in the eyes of mere mortals. Khan Saaab noted with disdain, that the hardest thing for the PM, was having to ask for loans, given the dire straits of the economy he inherited from the previous rulers who looted from the crippled masses and took refuge in foreign countries.
Bringing back looted money, paying taxes, tapping into natural resources, increasing export revenue and managing the pandemic, have all been pointers in the right direction, which lend to the hope and vision of the PM that Pakistan should become a proud and fiercely independent country standing tall on its own two feet, in the near future.
Imran Khan pointed out how mismanaged export had been under previous governments, not growing at all under PMLN, whereas for the first time in many years, export has grown under PTI. There is a wealth of untapped natural resources in Pakistan and tourism alone could generate significant revenue. Foreign reserves have increased significantly. Tax collection has been increased. Overseas remittances have increased tenfold. Affordable housing is being established with construction underway. Agriculture and Industry has risen. Foreign direct investment is coming in. This was a speech from a fearless, strong and compassionate statesman offering, at last, a much-needed ‘self-respect and hope’ to the nation.
There are four main areas to help those who are less well off. There will be interest-free loans. Education is high on the agenda. Housing will ensure interest-free loans, enabling homeownership and a major development in respect of health, with health cards and health insurance. These are brave and bold, yet long-awaited reforms, which reminisce of the Welfare state System introduced into the UK, following the first World War.
The Prime Minister said that NAB had recovered significantly more money in the last 3 years than ever before, from the corrupt mafia and more is yet to be recovered.
This was not a speech glossing over difficulties and Khan Saab acknowledged the rise in sex crimes, which he said was the most shameful thing, and that there was a need to educate the youth and establish morality, and what better way than to demonstrate the life and teachings of the Prophet, peace be Upon him. By years 7 and 8, all students would be taught Seerath Al-Nabi.
Education was clearly high on the list of priorities and the PM said Pakistan has a 3 tier system, which was English medium, Madrassas and Urdu medium. There would be the consistency of approach, providing English is taught to all students, as the reality is that English is a requisite for accessing higher education and should be available to all. This will be quite an achievement and should be supported and applauded.
There will be 10 Damns in the next 2 years, providing water, a commodity which has long been overlooked by previous governments. PTI’s vision is securing a future for its people, something which was so important and yet so overlooked by previous governments.
On the Taliban, Khan Saab spoke sorrowfully about Pakistan’s track record and tried to uplift the sense of pride and independence which has been trampled on in the past, whenever a superpower came waving an aid cheque.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has never shied away from speaking bluntly, telling American News Channels that instead of having pumped trillions of dollars into a failed venture in Afghanistan, they would have done better to look at the Chinese infrastructure and take a leaf out of China’s books, by fixing their bumpy roads in New York.
America used Pakistan, by asking it to train up Jihadi’s to get rid of Russia, before ceremoniously dumping Pakistan, until Pakistan was needed again after 9/11, when Bush promised this time America would not let down its ally. Khan Saab spoke up at the time, saying this was not Pakistan’s war to enter and the Taliban and the people of Afghanistan would never allow foreign invasion. History has proved him to be right.
“Do you know of any country which has allowed a third country to invade its land to liberate its women?” Khan Saab asked an animated audience. It’s never happened in history, as women have always liberated themselves, pointing to the Suffragette movement in the West. After all, it has only been in the last century that women were allowed to vote in the UK (1918), but Women got their independence without a Yankee President jumping in! Prime Minister reiterated that the way to liberate women was to ensure they had access to education and the government was committed to helping with this and reaching out to more rural areas, ensuring women have inheritance rights and enabling succession rights to be far simpler.
Khan Saab reiterated that the Taliban had acquiesced to the demands made at Doha and were welcoming an inclusive government and agreeing to many of the conditions, including ensuring women’s rights, so let’s work with them. Why be fearful of them breaking their promises and have a knee-jerk reaction, before any promise is broken, and the only practical way forward was to work with them.
The PM reminded the listener about the proud Afghan history and how they have laid down millions of lives, fighting against foreign invaders to their lands. The relatively peaceful handover to the Taliban, by a much larger US-backed force was no accident and no act of cowardice. They realised it’s not worth laying down their lives for a corrupt government, propped up by a foreign power.
Whilst we listen to the fearlessness and plain sense talking of a Proud Pakistani Prime Minister, one can’t help feeling some concern for his safety, combined with admiration.
The three-year mark has set a groundwork for the prospect of a healthier, progressive Pakistan, which is Independent and strong and one which looks after its weak, Inshallah.
This is a bold and brave agenda and the Prime Minister’s speech enthuses a huge sense of optimism.