Abu Dhabi, Dubai: With cricket legend Imran Khan all set to take over the country’s reins following landmark elections last month, Pakistani expatriates celebrating their country’s 71st Independence Day are optimistic about their country’s future and are hoping the new government will lead the nation to a positive change.

Speaking to Gulf News during the daylong celebrations, several Pakistani expats said they believe this is a new dawn for their country.

“It has been 71 years since Pakistan gained independence and we are still lagging behind in many aspects, but over the last few years there has been some progress and the image of Pakistan is changing in the world. With Imran Khan becoming the next prime minister, I hope he will take the country to new heights and lead us out of all troubles. I have great faith in his leadership,” said Shermin Ilyas, a 30-year-old Dubai-based Pakistani expat.

The former World Cup winning captain of Pakistan cricket team and founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, has great goodwill among all sections of Pakistan, but it is the country’s youth who have attached their aspirations with him.

“We have a lot of hope at the moment, in particular, a lot of hope and trust in Imran Khan. We expect to see a lot of progress in the next five years in both the government and private sectors, and so there is a lot of optimism in the air among Pakistanis,” said Syed Ali Anwar, a 31-year-old engineer.

He added that with good governance comes good development like economic prosperity and growth which will benefit the entire society.

Anwar also said he was hoping the soon-to-be prime minister would show the world a different side of Pakistan.

“Imran Khan can show a soft image of Pakistan, it will take time, but I believe he can do that because he is a recognised and popular figure around the world. This is what we want as citizens, we don’t want a bad image associated with our country, we want people to think good things when they hear about Pakistan,” he said.

Abu Bakr Yasin, a 28-year-old businessman, said though he is excited about the country’s new leadership, he urged people to be cautious at the same time.

“This is a new thing for us, we have been used to the same political parties and the same leaders for a long time even though we are a democratic country. The expectations are definitely high, but we need to be patient to see how it’s all going to work out. I am a big supporter of the vision Imran Khan has for our country, whether he will be able to implement it or not is another matter, if he can do 10 per cent of what he has preached then I think it will be very good for Pakistan,” said Yasin.

Such is the popularity of Imran Khan that even those who opposed him expect him to bring about a change in the country.

“Though we have our reservations about this election and I am not big a supporter of Imran Khan, I believe democracy should prevail. I have to admit that all of us expect a lot from Imran Khan and hope he will deliver,” said Khayamul Haq, a supporter of slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party.

And it is not just the youngsters that root for the all-rounder, even the old have their eyes set on him.

“Imran Khan has the ability to give our nation a new direction and take us towards a bright new future. I urge all Pakistanis across the political spectrum to support him,” said 66-year-old Ishtiyaq Ahmad Malik, who has been a resident of Dubai for 40 years.