Imran Khan is the leader Pakistan needs today

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Aden - Yasmin Abdel Azim - Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Image Credit: AFP

Highlights

  • Prime Minister Imran Khan is turning all his promises into action, one step at a time.
  • Reiteration, the process may take years but what has the certainty of the sun not rising in the west: Khan’s intentions are clear, coherent, and blemish-free.

Cliched but true. Change is one of those few abstract solids that are consistent but come with one caveat: change that has real and long-term significance is never an overnight phenomenon. From doing an HIIT workout every second day to sticking to the natural circadian clock for optimum sleep, I have never found change easy. It, nevertheless, remains a constant in my life. I want my life to be better in ways that matter, in ways that would make me a happier, better human being. The word “change” matters to me.

The word change, tabdeeli, is the credo of Pakistan-Tehreek-E-Insaf, Imran Khan’s party in power. Khan is working for tabdeeli. His main agenda is to ensure the tangible results of his promise of a “Naya Pakistan”. Will it happen?

Pakistan is trying to change. It won’t happen in two years, perhaps, not in five years. It may even take a decade. A naya Pakistan won’t be like the kaleidoscopic backdrop in a movie chronicling two decades of the protagonist’s life, the makeover of an ugly duckling, Cinderella’s dainty foot slipping into the glass slipper in the hands of a Prince Charming who kneels, besotted, in front of her. The problems of my beloved homeland are unqualifiable; solutions hard to perfect; and mis governance and slips, Freudian and intentional, intertwined like poison ivy covering the façade of a crumbling, white-columned haunted house on the hill.

A stronger Pakistan needs decreased prices, a better taxation system, a business-friendly system, employment opportunities, better healthcare and education, and safety of life. Khan’s government is doing its best. At times, even that seems insufficient or is mis-applied. Consistency to do better is the short- and long-term stimulus.

Without trying to google hyperboles to camouflage the reality, what I know with the certainty of the knowledge of my own name: Prime Minister Imran Khan is turning all his promises into action, one step at a time. Reiteration, the process may take years but what has the certainty of the sun not rising in the west: Khan’s intentions are clear, coherent, and blemish-free. Pakistan will change for better, and for that I don’t have to check my phone contacts to ask my buddies who are economists and financial gurus and governance experts and national and foreign policy veterans. I voted for Khan. I trust Khan. So far. And I turned to his twitter timeline for a study of his last three months’ performance.

Khan is changing Pakistan, not one tweet at a time. He may falter and err. What he understands: failure is not an option. Khan’s agenda’s authentic manifestation is with one solid plan-and-action at a time.

On December 10, 2019, Khan tweeted: “Inspired by the ideals preached by our Prophet PBUH, especially in his last sermon, and duties enshrined in our Constitution, my govt is committed to the protection of human rights for all its citizens without discrimination.”

Pakistan is not close to being Khan’s ideal of the Riyasat-e-Madinah. But as the Hadith states “Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended,” I believe justice and equality won’t just be catchphrases in Khan’s Pakistan. Not a very kind and just place at the moment but based on Khan’s words and actions it is a safe assumption that Pakistan may become the best of itself someday.

On December 12, 2019, Khan tweeted: “Our govt has increased the EOBI old-age pension by 62% from Rs.5250 to Rs.8500 within a year. This helps us provide pensioners' security in their post-retirement yrs. Much of this contribution comes from improving the institution itself. Another step towards Madinah ki Riyasat.”

One of the strengths of Khan’s government is its attention to the voiceless, the forgotten.

On December 18, 2020, Khan tweeted: “On Kisan Day I want to reiterate our commitment to facilitating our small farmers in increasing their yields, getting fair prices for their crops & improving market access. We are also ensuring their access to Sehat Health Cards & to educational scholarships through Ehsaas prog.”

In Khan’s Pakistan, there are no “small”, invisible-in-plain-sight people. There is no issue that would go unnoticed. Khan sees those who thought their life didn’t matter.

On December 25, 2019, Khan tweeted: “All our young aspiring leaders should make our Quaid their role model. He was Sadiq & Ameen; & his 40-year struggle was not for personal gain but to achieve a Homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent where they could live as free citizens second to none.”

The young of a country is its bright today and its glorious tomorrow. Be it in politics, governance, self-employment and or in a salaried job, the youth of Pakistan has the capability to achieve the “impossible”. No one has endorsed this idea more than Khan in his decades’-long political career and his one and a half year of prime ministership.

On December 25, 2019, Khan tweeted: “Today, on Quaid-i-Azam's birthday, we as a nation must resolve to build Pakistan in accordance with his vision of an Islamic welfare state based on compassion & human dignity; justice & rule of law; & a plural inclusivist society.”

The naya Pakistan that is for all was Khan’s political promise, his electoral rallying slogan and the fundamental principle of his government. That Pakistan would be kind, fair and inclusive. No one would be left behind.

On December 29, 2020, Khan tweeted: “Given the extremely cold weather conditions I have asked CMs of Punjab & KP to ensure that no person is left out without shelter; & their administrations must take immediate action to provide temporary shelters plus food for those who cannot be accommodated in existing Panagahs.”

Panagahs, shelters, for the homeless and destitute weren’t just one tweet months ago. The provision of temporary shelter for those who need instant help is assured in Khan’s government. It is not everywhere but it is a start.

A caring leader

On January 14, 2020, Khan tweeted: “The severe snowfalls and landslides in AJK have caused misery & deaths. I have asked the NDMA, the military & all our federal ministers to immediately provide all humanitarian assistance on an emergency footing to the affected people in AJK.”

The pain of Kashmiris does not go unnoticed in Pakistan–be it the constant suffering of Kashmiris in the Indian-administered Kashmir or the agony caused by a natural disaster on our side of the Line of Control.

On January 24, 2020, Khan tweeted: “This is great news as it will address two most important econ issues facing Pak today: employment & our current account deficit, by bringing in tourism & investment which in turn will provide employment opportunities esp for our youth.”

Pakistan is a country of great resources, both natural and human. And with the right input, individual and governmental, there is no limit to the heights that are attainable and sustainable. Khan believes and practises that.

On February 9, 2020, Khan tweeted: “I understand the difficulties ordinary people incl salaried class are confronting & have decided, come what may, my govt will be announcing various measures that will be taken to reduce prices of basic food items for the common man in Cabinet on Tuesday.”

the ordinary Pakistani lamented the increase in everyday essentials without any increase in their earnings, I expected a concerned-for-public Khan to react. He did. Prices are being brought under control.

On February 11, 2020, Khan tweeted: “Congratulations to Ali Zafar & mbrs of PM's Prisoners Aid Committee, which finalised its reform package report for effective prison reform. It will ensure greater public safety & rehab of prisoners on the principle that a prison sentence does not imply deprivation of human rights.

Prisons, other than for criminals serving life sentences for capital crimes, must not be a place of neglect and cruelty. Rehabilitation not retribution becomes the incentive for personal and collective change.

On February 24, 2020, Khan tweeted: “As a result of Govt focus on price control, substantial decrease in prices, especially in vegetable prices, can now be seen. I assure our people that I will not relent until all involved in artificially created price hikes are identified & punished.”

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There is no place in Khan’s agenda for oblivion to the pain of the aam aadmi, the millions of Pakistanis who suffer with every increase in the price of flour, sugar, ghee and dal. And there is no mercy for those few who for their accumulation of wealth hold an entire nation hostage to their greed.

On February 26, 2020, Khan tweeted: “I want to warn our people that anyone in Pakistan targeting our non-Muslim citizens or their places of worship will be dealt with strictly. Our minorities are equal citizens of this country.”

As Delhi burns with targeted attacks on Muslims and their properties, Khan’s tweet is a reiteration of his resolve to make Pakistan a country for all. Many Ahmadi Muslims, Christians and Hindus feel unsafe in Pakistan, and that is a tragedy that needs atonement with comprehensive and long-lasting public and state introspection. Khan’s warning is heartening: the state will not turn the other way and be lenient to those who harm people of other faiths. Our humanity and our religion teach us not to.

Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan is not perfect, he never claimed to be. With his flawed humanness and willingness to introspect and change, Khan is every bit the leader Pakistan needs today: thoughtful, open-minded, farsighted, and empathetic. The last quality is what matters the most.

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