ISLAMABAD, Aug 20 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday shared his vision for the “Naya Pakistan” that focuses on rooting out corruption, providing swift justice, reviving economy and supremacy of the law, to materialize his dream of a welfare state like that of Madina.
In his maiden 70-minute long address to the nation, aired by all national news channels, the Prime Minister spelt out at length his plans for the reformation of the country, that has been mired in over Rs 28,000 billion loans in the past decade.
Imran Khan while giving a brief outline about the current dismal state of things, where the national economy was in a shambles, and all sectors were in decline, said instead of begging foreign countries for loans, the people of Pakistan needed to sacrifice and stand on their own feet. He made an impassioned appeal to the overseas Pakistanis to send in their remittances through banking channels and have their US dollar accounts in Pakistani banks to bolster the country’s forex reserves.
He also vowed to reform the stagnant taxation system and assured the people that they would be kept informed where their money, they payed as taxes, was being spent. He promised to facilitate overseas Pakistanis for investing in Pakistan, and boost exports.
He reiterated his promise to provide jobs to five million youth, cheap housing, technical training and playgrounds to boost healthy activities.
Imran Khan, who took oath of his office a day earlier after winning the majority vote on his popular theme for fighting the corrupt, expressed the resolve to make the National Accountability Bureau, the Federal Investigation Agency and the Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan all powerful to take to task the corrupt mafias that have plundered the national wealth.
He also assured reforms in the justice system, police, health, education, civil services, local government system. He mentioned the climate change, looming water shortages and environmental pollution as major threats that needed to be addressed without any delay. He lauded the initiative of the Chief Justice of Pakistan for the Diamir Bhasha Dam project and promised to make it a priority of his government.
On the foreign policy front, Imran Khan said he believed that progress and development were the dividends of peace and stability and vowed to pursue a policy of good relations with all countries, particularly with all the neighbours.
The Prime Minister vowed to fully implement the 20-point National Action Plan and take all measures to wipe out terrorism and extremism from the country.
Vowing to lead by example, Imran Khan said he would protect public money and simplicity and austerity would be the hallmarks of his government.
He said the Prime Minister House would be turned into an elite university for research and development. He announced auction of all additional armoured vehicles on the PM House pool, use of only two vehicles, owing to security concerns and two staff members. He said the chief ministers and governors would follow the suit.
The Prime Minister announced formation of a number of task forces to suggest austerity measures, civil services reforms, bring back the looted wealth from abroad, boost investment, police reforms in Punjab and other provinces, improving health care system and addressing the issue of water crisis.
He said Pakistan had rich natural beauty that needed to be exploited and promised four new resorts, plantation of trees across the country, fighting air, water and land pollution.
On the education sector, he promised education for the 22 million children who were out of schools and equal opportunities for those studying at Madaris.
He particular directed the civil service to serve the masses and treat the common man as the real VVIP and assured to depoliticise the service and ensure merit and professionalism.
Announcing to ensure meritocracy in the country, the Prime Minister said the foremost characteristics of a leader must be the honesty and truthfulness with no conflict of interests while holding an office.
Unveiling his roadmap encompassing the measures for austerity and transparency, he told the nation that he would use only two of 529 employees deployed at the PM House, and two vehicles out of a fleet of 80, including 33 armoured cars. The rest of the cars would be auctioned to businessmen to contribute to national kitty, he added. Moreover, instead of living at the luxurious PM House, he would stay at a three-bed residence of the Military Secretary outside the PM House, he said.
The Prime Minister said none of the governors would reside in governor houses and ensure maximum austerity in the chief minister houses of the PTI-led provinces. He said a committee of experts and intellectuals would decide the future use of governor houses.
Similarly, a university of international stature would be established at the PM House where the researchers would conduct quality research, he added.
The prime minister announced to form a task force under his Adviser-designate Ishrat Hussain to suggest the measures as how to save the public money for use on the downtrodden people.
He categorically said the foreign debts were not a solution to run a country. It was disgraceful of a nation as well as the leader to beg money from other countries as the lenders compromised the sovereignty of the country.
He pledged to uplift the national economy, without begging to develop a great and dignified nation.
He said it was unfortunate that only 800,000 people of 200 million pay taxes and resolved to revive the public trust in the Federal Board of Revenue to ensure spending of people’s tax money on their own.
The prime minister advised the people to pay taxes religiously as tax evaders did nothing but to hurt the country and burden the poor.
He announced to constitute a high-powered task force to ensure the repatriation of money stashed abroad through money laundering or other illegal means. He quoted a US State Department’s report saying the black money worth Rs 1,000 billion was transferred abroad annually from Pakistan.
He urged the masses not to elect a leader running businesses abroad and questioned as to how a person could be loyal to Pakistan and his people while having his own interests in other countries.
Imran announced that his government would take all-out measures to uplift national industry to boost exports, besides facilitating the SME sector and investors through one-widow operations.
He said he would direct the embassies to find out Pakistani expatriates languishing in jails abroad and reasons behind their imprisonment so that they could be helped out.
He urged the overseas Pakistanis to invest their money in Pakistan or deposit in US dollar accounts as the country direly needed the same to address the imbalance of payment. He also urged them to send their remittances through banks to help the country in the trying time.
Reiterating his government’s priority to cleanse the country of corruption, he said the National Accountability Bureau would be strengthened by extending all-out assistance and funding. Moreover, the government would also introduce whistleblowers act across the country as it had done in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to award the informers of any embezzlement of public money.
The prime minister said he would keep the portfolio of interior ministry with him to deal with the issues of money laundering and those related to the Federal Investigation Agency.
He said following the crackdown by the government, those involved in corrupt practices would make hue and cry, and propaganda of imperiling the democracy.
“But you should stand by me. Either the country will survive or the corrupt people,” he resolved.
Imran said in order to reform the judicial system and ensure speedy disposal of civil cases within a year, the government would amend the law and requested the Chief Justice of Pakistan to hear the cases involving widows on priority.
He said the government would also send lawyers’ teams to prisons to know about the ordeals of poor prisoners as in some cases the poor people languished in jails just for not affording to hire counsel.
.:The prime minister said his government was keen and committed to bring about police reforms in other provinces with the help of respective provincial governments just like the PTI-led government had introduced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
He said the PTI registered triumph in the general election in KP due to the reason that its government had made the police force to function on professional lines. He credited former inspector general of police Nasir Durrani for making the reforms feasible in the province.
He said Durrani had agreed to accept an advisory role for bringing about the much needed reforms in the Punjab police. The federal government would also work with the Sindh government in that regard.
The prime minister noted with alarm, the rise in the child-abuse cases and referred to the heinous incident in Kasur. He dropped a hint that his government would take strict action over such cases while the Ministry of Human Rights would focus on it.
About reforms in the education sector, Imran Khan said efforts would be made to improve the education standards in the government schools where the situation was not satisfactory.
He said he knew how salaried people managed to send their children to private institutions to get quality education with their meager resources and by doing dual jobs.
Prime Minister Imran stressed that they would have to raise standard of education in the government schools and deal with the issue of 22.5 million children out of school. The proposal for running the dual shifts in the government schools was also under consideration, he added.
He said the children studying in Madaris should also get the quality education and should be afforded opportunities to excel in different fields of life.
About his other priority, he said a task force would be formed to improve the conditions in government-run hospitals.
He acknowledged that in the government hospitals, bringing about swift reforms was a difficult task, however, the government was determined to take drastic steps in other provinces as it had taken in the KP.
All the countrymen would be given the facility of Sehat Insaf Card in the shape of free medical services of up to Rs 500,000 at government and private health institutions like the one already introduced in the KP.
Imran noted that the country was facing the water scarcity issues, which were impacting the rural areas and the agriculture sector.
He underscored the importance of imparting proper and adequate knowledge to farmers about the use of the latest agriculture technologies, so that their crop yield could be increased without burdening them financially.
He also highlighted the importance of agri-research, besides proper water rationalizing by the famers’ community.
The prime minister maintained that the construction of Bhasha Dam was must to face the emerging water related problems. He also lauded the Chief Justice of Pakistan for taking the initiative in that regard.
The government, he said, would support all efforts to collect funds for the construction of dam with the help of expatriates.
Regarding the role of civil servants in running the government affairs and accomplishment of its policies, the prime minister hinted that he would re-introduce the merit policy.
He regretted that the political interferences and lack of merit policy had impinged upon the functioning of the civil service, which was once regarded as the backbone of the country. The civil service required reformation, he said and assured that there would be no interference from the PTI government.
The honest and dedicated people would be accorded due respect and protection no matter whatsoever they had the political affiliations, he added.
The prime minister reiterated that ordinary man should be treated equally in the society and given the due rights.
He referred to Right to Public Service Act of KP, where bonuses were announced for the departments who delivered on time whereas the others, who failed to achieve the targets, were penalized.
Imran said the local government system introduced in the KP had transferred powers to the grassroots level and the same would now be would be strengthened across the country.
He said plans were afoot in which the district nazims would be elected directly, so that there should be checks and balances. Giving an example of the Punjab province, he said in the past, all resources were accumulated in office of chief minister, and the MNAs and MPAs were given the development funds.
The prime minister also unveiled his plans to construct five million low cost housing units which would create immense job opportunities for the youth as at least 50 industries would be directly benefitted from such investment.
He said energies would be devoted on skill development of the youth, besides, provision of interest free loans so that they could set up their personal businesses.
About the role of games in the lives of youth, the prime minister said sports facilities with proper playgrounds would be constructed for the youth across the country. For the families’ recreation, parks with all facilities would be provided.
The prime minister also noted with concern the issue of global warming which was affecting the country. The government would kick-start a massive tree plantation campaign all over the country to turn Pakistan green, and in that campaign, the youth would be involved.
He also enumerated the environmental challenges posed by air and water pollution. He mentioned Karachi and Lahore which were affected with air pollution, besides facing the recurring issue of garbage dunes.
He said campaigns would be launched to clean sea and environment which was one of his major targets.
The prime minister expressed the confidence that after five years, there would be a different Pakistan.
He said Pakistan was bestowed with huge tourism potential as he was one among few Pakistanis who had toured the country thoroughly.
He announced that every year, four new tourist resorts would be opened to promote tourism industry. He especially mentioned the tourism potential of sea beaches and said Karachi and Gwadar beaches would be developed.
The prime minister said the government would fast track the merger of tribal areas with the KP to improve the living conditions in those areas which were hard hit by the militancy and terrorism in the past.
He said the local government elections would be arranged in those areas though it was not an easy task but there was no other way.
He also emphasized to develop the Balochistan province by bringing back all the estranged elements in the mainstream of life. About the South Punjab province, he said it should be created.
He also linked the country’s progress with the economic activities in Karachi and said for maintaining law and order there, the police reforms would be introduced with the support of the provincial government.
The prime minister said the 20-point National Action Plan as agreed upon by all the political parties would be fully implemented. There would be no national progress without peace and tranquility, he added.
The prime minister maintained they would strive to improve relations with all the neighbouring countries.
He said it was his vision to make Pakistan ‘a real welfare state’ with full attention paid to pathetic conditions of street children, widows and the handicapped.
Imran Khan said they had to differentiate between the human society and the life led by animals.
It was the human compassion, pity and sympathy which made it distinct from the animal world, he added.
The prime minister laid stress upon emulating the principles as laid down by Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in the creation of Madina state. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) paid full attention to lift the conditions of his people, he added.
The prime minister resolved to lead a simple life marked with austerity and to fully safeguard the public money.
He said he would not do any business while in office and called upon the people to identify and discourage those who stole away the public money.
He said the elements, who stashed away the public money, were also his enemies though he had no personal grudge against them. It was their collective responsibility to halt such elements, he said and referred to efficacy of the social media in that regard.
The prime minister said they had to save the country by giving it a top priority.
He said it was his vision that one day would dawn upon the country when there would be no person to avail the Zakat money and it would be in a position to lend financial support to other deserving countries.
..:The prime minister at the outset thanked all the workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), who had stood with him during the last 22 years of his political struggle.
He also paid rich tribute to late PTI workers Ahsan Rasheed and Saloni Bukhari, who, he said, stood with him in the struggle even at a time when some people used to ridicule and call the PTI a “Tanga” party.
Imran Khan said his struggle was not aimed at achieving a political career but was a mission as the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was his role model.
His 22-year struggle was aimed at turning Pakistan into a state like Madina created by Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). The Holy Prophet (PBUH) brought a revolution and led the world.
He said the country at present was facing multiple challenges, particularly economic problems.
Pakistan today owed a huge debt of Rs 28,000 billion as against Rs 6,000 billion ten years back. The he country’s debt reached from Rs 6,000 billion in 2008 to Rs 13,000 billion and Rs 28,000 billion, respectively, in 2013 and 2018.
He vowed to tell the nation why this huge amount of loans was taken during the last ten years and how it was spent. “Today, we are in a situation, when we have to borrow even for debt-servicing.”
The prime minister said the PPP during its first year of government took loans worth $ 2 billion.
Now the country required $ 2 billion a month for debt-servicing as the foreign debt had reached to US $ 95 billion in 2018 from US $ 60 billion in 2013, causing depreciation of rupee against dollar.
Imran Khan said at one hand there was huge debt and on the other, there was a poor Human Development Index (HDI).
He said according to a UNDP report, Pakistan was among the five countries with the highest rate of infant mortality due to contaminated water intake; women mortality during pregnancy and delivery, stunted growth of children due to malnutrition.
The prime minister said with 45% stunted growth every second child in two years of age in Pakistan was facing malnutrition.
With a country owing heavy debt, he made a comparison of two classes of society including the ones who did not have resources to spend on their children and were deprived of basic facilities, and the second ones were the ruling elite who were leading luxury lives.
Imran Khan said that there were 524 persons to serve the prime minister at the 1100-Kanal PM House, coupled with 80 cars, including 33 bulletproof ones having price of Rs 50 million each, besides helicopters and an aeroplane.
He also mentioned the huge and luxurious state buildings like governor houses, CM houses, rest houses, residences of secretaries, commissioners, DCs etc.
“At one hand the nation was burdened with debt and on the other, we have the elite. This system was created by the British during the colonial era to rule the masses, but even after independence the same practice was being followed,” Imran Khan remarked.
He said the former Prime Minister (Nawaz Sharif) spent Rs 650 million on foreign trips and the Speaker National Assembly out of Rs 160 million budget spent Rs 80 million on foreign visits.
“If we did not mend our ways, then we will be heading towards a disaster. We have to be compassionate, as there are people (in our country) who struggle hard for two meals a day; and 45% children are facing malnutrition,” he said and added, “We will have to review our thinking.”
The prime minister said with 22.5 million out-of-school children, water scarcity and global warming issues, the country required serious efforts to tackle the challenges.
Imran Khan said Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) was a role model as he, at a time when there were two super powers of Roman and Persian empires, succeeded in uniting those Arabs who used to live in tribes and often fought with one another and turned them into a great nation in a few years.
He said the principles of a welfare state introduced by Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) were being followed and implemented by the West.
He said the rule of law was the first principle without which no nation could move forward, adding, “Our Holy Prophet had declared that even if her daughter broke the law she would be punished.” Similarly, Hazrat Umar (RA) and Hazrat Ali (RA) presented themselves for accountability, he added.
The prime minister said the system of Zakat (in Islam) was a progressive taxation. The Scandinavian countries, including Norway, Sweden and Denmark, were following a system in which the richer paid more and that money was used for the welfare of the poor and the provision of basic facilities for the masses.