‘Naya Pakistan is being created in front of your eyes,’ PM

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Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing a large crowd at a community event at Washington’s Capital One Arena on Sunday, said that a ‘Naya Pakistan’ was being created in front of people’s eyes. “People ask ‘Where is Naya Pakistan?’ — it is being created in front of your eyes,” the premier said.

Earlier, organiser of the event Dr Abdullah Riar had said that they were expecting between 15,000 and 20,000 at the event. PM Imran was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, and Minister of State for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari.

Addressing the crowd in the American capital, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the problem in Pakistan was that when political leaders were asked for answers, they say that political revenge is being taken, and when courts make decisions they say ‘kyun nikala’.

“Today, what you see happening in Pakistan is what Naya Pakistan was about: these people had never been asked for answers before.” The premier said that there were two main reasons — a system of merit and accountability — due to which democracy had succeeded as a governance system and left monarchy behind.

Citing a sports example, the PM said that the Australian cricket team had dominated the sport as they have a system that brings up talent and relies on merit.”I have played cricket all around the world. I have seen the most cricketing talent in Pakistan. But [because] there is no system of merit, we can’t bring that talent up. “This is why we are not dominating the world [in cricket] — because there is no meritocracy.”

PM Imran said that America had succeeded thanks to a system based on meritocracy, through which good leaders replaced bad ones. He regretted that in Pakistan there was a “type of monarchy” and merit did not come into play in the country. “A society that doesn’t have merit, doesn’t go forward.”

The premier said that the second factor that took democracy forward was leaders being held accountable. “Democracy is successful when the leadership is answerable.” Prime Minister Imran said that cases against political leaders in Pakistan were not new. “All the cases against them are old. We did not [start] any case […] all we have done is make institutions independent.”

“We have seen Pakistan go down before our eyes,” he said, adding that when he was growing up in the country during the 1960s, Pakistan was considered to be the fastest developing country in the subcontinent and Asia.

He said the Pakistani bureaucracy was considered the top one in Asia and people used to come from abroad to study in the country.”This is the same Pakistan we saw go down.”PM Imran explained that the form of socialism in place during the 1970s had led to industrial growth in the country stopping and then after 1985, bribery came into politics when the “real damage” took place.

“We saw Pakistan go down before our eyes.”

He said two things — public office holders being held accountable and merit — were required to lift the country up.

“Anyone who is a public office holder should answer to the people.”

While referring to political leaders in the country, the premier said: “They have one purpose, they want to hear three words from me: NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance].”

He said that now the powerful individuals in Pakistan were being held accountable, which included the seizure of their benami properties.

“Remember this is the time that Pakistan will change, it is changing before you.”

The premier added that a merit-based system was required in the country.

“A system of merit will come when family-based politics end.

“Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is the first party where no relative or friend of Imran Khan is in any post,” he said, adding that new leaders, such as Minister for Communications and Postal Services Murad Saeed and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Division Hammad Azhar, would emerge from the party.

“Our country will rise before you. You will see we will fix the system and let the lower segment come up.”

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