Change will begin from PM House, says Imran Khan
Lahore, Pakistan - Imran pointed to the difference between the growing lifestyles of the rich and the poor.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday painted a bleak picture of Pakistan's economy. "Never in Pakistan's history have we faced such difficult economic circumstances," he said in his first address to the nation.
"Our debt burden is Rs28 trillion. We haven't been as indebted in our entire history as we have been in the last 10 years, The Dawn quoted Imran as saying. "We will bring this money back. That is, God willing, what we are here to do."
"The interest that we have to pay on our debt has reached a level that we have to take on more debt just to repay our obligations.
"Our external debt obligations have reached a level that we have to contemplate how we are going to grapple with them. On one hand we are so indebted, and on the other hand our human development index ranking is in the doldrums," Imran said.
He outlined the deficiencies in the healthcare sector, saying: "We are unfortunately among the five countries where infant mortality due to unclean water resources is highest."
"We have the highest rates of mortality for pregnant women. We are unfortunately one of the countries that suffer from the highest incidences of stunting in children. I have been saying this for ages and nobody took me seriously. We are talking about 45 per cent of this nation's children.
"They are not getting proper nutrition. They are not developing properly. They are automatically left behind. What must their parents go through seeing their children in such a state?" the prime minister asked.
"We have two paths ahead of us: one is the path we have taken so far - indebtedness, poverty, no funds to help our most vulnerable. The other path is what I wish to speak out about today."
Imran pointed to the difference between the growing lifestyles of the rich and the poor, and hinted that he would adopt an austere style of governance.
"I want to speak about how the rich and powerful live in this country," he said. "The prime minister has 524 servants and 80 cars. The prime minister, which is me, also has 33 bulletproof cars. We have helicopters and aeroplanes to fly us. We have massive governor houses and every conceivable luxury."
"On one hand we don't have money to spend on our people; on the other hand, we have a section of our people living like our colonial masters used to live," Imran pointed out.
"Look at how we live. Look at how much money is spent by prime ministers on foreign tours? Where do these people spend Rs650 million? Where does the speaker spend the Rs160 million budget allotted to him? Are they going abroad to conquer land?"
"We need to be compassionate towards our compatriots: to those who cannot afford to eat twice a day. We need to ask what will happen to the 25 million children out of school. We need to ask what happens to our population. We need to ask how we are to grapple with climate change, he said, adding: "This is the time that we decide to change our destiny."
Imran said he will use the governance style adopted by the Holy Prophet to bring the nation out of its plight
The prime minster put forward a five-point agenda:
"The first thing is the supremacy of law," he said. "The law has to be the same for everyone."
"The second thing is Zakat. What does Zakat mean? It means that I spend based on what I have on those who do not have enough. This is called progressive taxation. The rich pay more to subsidise the poor. There is good healthcare, good education and justice for all. The disabled, the orphans and widows have support.
"The third is compassion. In the West, they care for animals in ways that would put us to shame. Animals fare better there than humans do here. We need to incorporate those lessons.
"The fourth is merit. Without merit you cannot do anything. The responsibilities of the ruler entail that they are sadiq and ameen. They have to be truthful people. There can be no conflict of interest. The west has these laws: in our country, you see people amassing untold riches in their tenure in power.
"The fifth is education. The Holy Prophet stressed education above everything else. After the Battle of Badr, he made it incumbent on his people to attain an education. Look at us today: we are nowhere because we have not followed his instructions."
"You should not feel overwhelmed. We are in this together and we will find a way out together. This is not why this country was formed. This country was formed as a model for the State of Medina."