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Imran Khan refuses lavish home as Pakistan PM to send out a message

After being elected as the premier, Pakistan PM Imran Khan pledged to bring about change “that the country has been awaiting for the last 70 years”.

world Updated: Aug 20, 2018 13:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan,Imran Khan,Pakistan Elections
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, speaks to the nation in his first televised address in Islamabad, Pakistan August 19, 2018. (Reuters)

A day after being sworn in as the prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan said that he would restore the nation to its former glory by curbing corruption and propagating the policy of austerity.

Delivering his maiden address to the nation on Sunday night, Khan said he would lead the way by not staying in the prime minister’s official residence. “I shall instead live in a house traditionally allotted to the military secretary, with just two employees. I did not want that either, but was told to stay there for security purposes,” he added.

The prime minister, however, admitted that he would have to resort to higher taxation in order to resolve the country’s economic issues and ensure better living conditions for its people.

Khan began his address by listing the problems faced by the troubled country. “Our debt has mounted to $27,000 billion from $6,000 billion. These historical loans must be investigated thoroughly. As things stand now, we have been taking more loans just to pay off the interest incurred on these loans,” he said.

Khan also claimed to have found a way to alleviate the Pakistani rupee, which he said had plummeted due to “external debt”. He listed economic imbalance, malnutrition, lack of potable water and inaccessibilty to education as some of the other problems facing the country.

Stressing on the issue of economic imbalance, he observed: “We are among five countries in the world where children die of drinking dirty water, and find their growth stunted due to malnutrition. But, on the other hand, our elite class are leading lavish lifestyles.”

Khan said the key to developing the country lay in its elite class adopting a lifestyle change and showing sympathy towards the poor. “As many as 25 million of our children are out of schools, our youth are unemployed, and we are facing climate change issues. In order to rectify this, we should learn from our Prophet, who turned the Arab nations into superpowers simply by applying some basic principles,” he added.

Khan said increasing taxation was the only way to avoid approaching other countries for loans. “I will feel ashamed to go abroad begging, and so will you. Nobody respects beggars, and a nation can become great through sacrifice and not monetary aid. It is a question of your dignity now. Pay your taxes, and Pakistan will never beg from anybody,” he said.

The prime minister then went on to list the ways in which the government would lead the country’s population by example. “Besides not staying in the prime minister’s residence, I will ensure that all luxury vehicles are auctioned and the money deposited with the national exchequer. No governor will stay in residences meant for them either. I will turn the prime minister’s official residence into a university after consultations. We will constitute a task force committee to cut down on expenses. In Naya Pakistan, this money will be used for the poor,” he said.

Khan also stressed on the need to provide the country’s population with adequate education opportunities. “Education is another key factor. In state of Madina, emphasis was placed on education. Our Prophet prioritised education over everything,” he asserted.

While Khan maintained that his government would enhance relations on the international front and take steps to ensure peace, he made no specific mention of India. He, however, did indicate a willingness to end terrorism in the state.

The prime minister then spoke on the need to turn Pakistan into an investment hub. “We have to increase our exports now. We will bring investment into Pakistan with a one-window operation that cuts through red-tapeism,” he said. “Our small industries are currently in hot water due to red tapism, but we will take steps to remedy that.”

Khan ended his speech with the vision of a day when taxation will no longer be needed to support the country. “Insha Allah, a day will come when nobody in this country will need Zakat, and we will be helping other countries instead. I want to see this shape of Pakistan to come true,” he said.

Khan was anointed as the 22nd premier of the country by Pakistan president Mamnoon Hussain in Islamabad on Saturday. The ceremony was attended by former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and legendary pacer Wasim Akram, besides top officials from the Pakistan Army, Air Force and Navy. His wife, Bushra Maneka, was also present on the occasion.

The firebrand Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief did not deliver the traditional address to the nation after the oath-taking ceremony, but instead headed to the Prime Minister’s Office where he was briefed on government matters.

Khan was elected as the prime minister of Pakistan by National Assembly legislators on Friday, defeating rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Shehbaz Sharif. While the 65-year-old cricketer-turned-politician bagged 176 seats, Shehbaz Sharif, the PML-N president and the brother of jailed former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, managed to secure just 96, The Dawn reported.

After being elected as the premier, Khan pledged to bring about change “that the country has been awaiting for the last 70 years”. He also promised to identify the people accountable for “looting the country”.

First Published: Aug 20, 2018 07:26 IST