Imran Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday, in his first public address since his party won around 120 seats in the preliminary General Election results, talked about his vision for Pakistan and pledged to safeguard the interests of ordinary citizens.
Khan, in his speech, said that he was thankful to have finally been given the chance to implement the manifesto he had envisioned more than two-decade ago.
“Thanks to God, we won,” said Khan, adding “We were successful and we were given a mandate,” the cricketer-turned-politician said during a live broadcast. He assured that there was ‘no politician victimisation’ in the acrimonious contest.
PTI chairman promised to provide them the assistance required to investigate the allegations of rigging. In the same breath he dismissed such allegations, terming yesterday’s polls “the fairest in Pakistan’s history”.
“If you think there has been rigging, we will assist you in the investigation if you have any doubts. We will stand by you. I feel that this election has been the fairest in Pakistan’s history. If any party has any doubts, we will open up the results of those constituencies for investigation.”
Khan appreciated the people of Balochistan who voted on election day, despite a suicide attack that left 31 people dead, and the armed forces who provided security for the polls.
“Farmers are not paid for their hard work, 25 million children are out of school, our women continue to die in childbirth because we can’t give them basic healthcare, we can’t give the people clean drinking water. A country is not recognised by the lifestyle of the rich, but by the lifestyle of the poor. No country that has an island of rich people and a sea of poor people can prosper,” he said.
Khan said, “I pledge to safeguard the nation’s taxes. We will decrease all of our expenses,” he promised.
“Our institutions will be stronger, everyone will be held accountable. First, I will be subjected to accountability, then my ministers and so on. Today we are behind [other countries] because there is a separate system for those in power and a separate one for ordinary citizens,” he said.
“We are facing governance and economic challenges. Our economy has never been so abysmal. It’s because institutions have not been doing their jobs,” he said.
“Our government will decide what we will do with PM House. I would be ashamed to live in such a large house. That house will be converted into an educational institution or something of the sort,” he said.
“We will improve tax culture. People will pay taxes because they will see that their taxes are being spent on them. We will help farmers, the business community and help the youth to find jobs and develop their skills. Our money will be spent on human development,” he added.
“Another challenge is foreign policy. No other country needs peace like we do. We will strengthen our relations with China, they have given us a chance by investing in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and we also want to learn how to improve people’s lives, drag them out of poverty. Will also learn how to deal with corruption,” he said.
“Next is Afghanistan. They have suffered most in the ‘war on terror’, and before that in the Afghan jihad. Peace in Afghanistan means peace in Pakistan,” he said, adding that he envisions open borders with Afghanistan reminiscent to those within the European Union.
“We want to improve our relations with India, if their leadership also wants it. This blame game that whatever goes wrong in Pakistan is because of India and vice versa brings us back to square one,” he said.
“This is not how we will grow, and it is detrimental to the sub-continent,” he said.