Islamabad (Web Desk) Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inaugural address to the nation since being elected the country’s new premier is being broadcast by Pakistan Television.
The address began following the recitation from Holy Quran and the playing of the national anthem.
PM Khan first thanked those who stood by him in his political struggle, saying: “I want to thank all my supporters who have been with me on this journey for the last 22 years. I did not want to pursue politics as a career, but as a means to make this country what it should have been.
“I salute all those workers who have stood by me in the most difficult of times. Who bore ridicule to support me . I could not have been here without you.”
The prime minister identified Pakistan’s economic challenges and how he would fix them. “Never in Pakistan’s history have we faced such difficult economic circumstances,” he said. “Our debt burden is Rs28 trillion. We haven’t been as indebted in our entire history as we have been in the last ten years.
“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.”
Next, PM Khan 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?”
“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.”
Khan 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.
“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 Rs160m budget alloted to him? Are they going abroad to conquer land?”
“God says that I do not change the destiny of those who do not wish to change themselves. We need to pay heed.”
“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.
“This is the time that we decide to change our destiny.”
The prime minster said he will use the governance style used by the Holy Prophet to bring the nation out of its plight.
“What did the Holy Prophet do to unite all the tribes living in the Arabian peninsula?” he said. “What did he do to mould them into one of the most powerful nations on earth? I want to speak on those principles today. I want to speak about how we are going to lift ourselves based on that model.
The prime minster gave 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 subsidize 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.”