As the nation was glued to their TV screens, Prime Minister Imran Khan chalked out his government’s strategy to transform Pakistan into an ‘Islamic welfare state’ in his inaugural address to the nation after assuming charge of the country’s top office.
The address started with the recitation of Holy Quran and the national anthem of Pakistan.
“I thank my workers who have been with me since 22 years in this ‘jihad’,” said Khan. Following the footsteps of my role models Quaid-e-Azam and Prophet Mohammad PBUH, my aim would be to make this country what it was supposed to be, he added.
The PTI chief paid tribute to his party workers who supported and backed him when no one else was ready to do.
Commenting on the country’s current situation, the premier said debts are rising and human development index of Pakistan is showing a downward trend according to the UNDP report.
“We are from the nation where new born babies and women still die at the time of birth. Over 45% children in Pakistan die due to malnutrition.
“I am telling you this because we will try and change all of this.”
PM Khan said the prime minister of Pakistan enjoys 524 servants, 80 cars and 33 bullet-proof cars, costing Rs50 million each despite being a poor country.
“On one hand, there’s a poor nation and on the other there’s this ruling elite. They live like the British when they colonised us.”
He said Pakistan is going through the most severe economic crisis, adding that the country’s debt has surpassed Rs28,000 billion. “Rs650 million were spent on PM’s foreign trips. The National Assembly speaker has a budget of Rs160 million, out of which he spends Rs80 million on foreign trips.”
PM Khan said more than 20 million children are not going to schools in the country. “Pakistan is 7th on the list of countries which will suffer the most from global warming.”
The premier said: “We need to rethink our approach and the way we live. The country cannot progress if it keeps heading the way it is. Countries of the West only developed when they started following the principles laid down by the Holy Prophet PBUH.”
He said the country is indebted to throat at one end, and on the other is the extravagant lifestyle of our rulers.
Khan said none of his governors will reside in the governor houses. “We’ll build an elite university in the PM House where research will be done.”
PM Imran categorically ruled out living in the PM House and vowed to build a high-profile university at the premises. He also announced to auction luxury vehicles of the PM house and put the money into the national kitty.
A task force would be made under Dr Ishrat Hussain, which will recommend austerity measures that can be adopted by the government.
“We will have to cut down our expenses,” said the newly-elected premier, stressing that taking loans and aides from other countries was something the government will have to learn to live without.
The former cricket legend announced that he will use only two cars, and live in a three-bed house and have only two servants as the prime minister. “I cannot live at Bani Gala due to security concerns,” he added.
Khan said that austerity would be practised at all CM and governor houses of the country.
“When a leader begs for money, a nation loses its respect … we will have to become a great nation by giving sacrifices, not begging.”
The prime minister said that only 0.8 million of the 200 million people pay taxes in the country. “The country cannot progress like this … FBR needs to be reformed,” he added.
Reign of Khan
He said another task force is being formed to recover money that is being laundered out of Pakistan. “Never vote for a political party whose leader has wealth stacked abroad,” he added.
Stressing need to increase exports, the prime minister said the government would facilitate industries in this regard. “Small industries are the backbone of any country and we will create ease for them to do business in the country.”
Khan said the PM Secretariat would have an office to deal with problems faced by investors. “We need to uplift small-scale industries.”
He said Pakistan’s embassies would be tasked to facilitate overseas Pakistanis, and release Pakistani inmates languishing in prisons across the world. “We would create investment opportunities for overseas Pakistanis … we will contact our embassies to tell us how many of our citizens are locked up abroad and for what crimes.”
Commenting over eradicating corruption from the country, PM Khan said no country can progress where corruption is rampant. “We will strengthen the NAB (National Accountability Bureau) … we will pass the Whistle-blower Act like we did in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.”
Speaking about not appointing an interior minister, PM Khan said he is keeping the portfolio of Ministry of Interior. “In order to reform the justice system for the masses, I will meet with the chief justice of Pakistan.”
He said that impending cases must not prolong for more than a year. “Many widows have come to me whose lands have been illegally taken away from them. I would request the CJP to resolve their cases at the earliest.”
The prime minister announced that former police officer Nasir Durrani will be appointed as an adviser to reform the police force in Punjab.
Speaking about rampant child abuse cases in the society, he said his government would come down hard on culprits in child abuse cases. “The salaried class sacrifice a lot to ensure their children get a decent education from private schools as the public schools are in abysmal conditions. We also need to raise the standards at seminaries, so pupil at madrassahs can also have better opportunities in life.”
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Commenting over abysmal condition of the health sector, PM Imran announced that his government would issue ‘Health Card’ to every citizen throughout Pakistan. “A task force has been made to reform government hospitals. Health insurance of Rs500,000 would be given to each Pakistani.”
Speaking on severe water crises, Khan said without building Diamer-Bhasha dam the country would not overcome the crises. He also spoke about ensuring ease to farmers.
The PTI chief went on to say that civil service reforms would also be introduced in the country. “Right to services Act would be introduced like we did in K-P … through the Act, bonuses and penalties would be given to civil servants.”
Imran also announced to give interest-free loans to the youth so they can invest in businesses. “We will build parks and playgrounds and plant billions of trees throughout Pakistan,” he concluded.
PM Khan was initially scheduled to address the nation at 8pm, however, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry announced on Twitter that the former’s address would be aired at 9:30pm.
PTI’s nominee for the post of president Dr Arif Alvi had also shed light on Khan’s speech earlier in the day, saying the prime minister would chalk out a road map today and would elaborate on “our future strategy. Hopefully, he would abide by all promises that he has made to the public.”
Earlier in the day, the chairman of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) also called for a parliamentary meeting to discuss presidential elections and other key matters.
The meeting was attended by PTI leaders including senators, members of national and provincial assemblies and coalition partners.