Imran Khan’s first address to the nation after being sworn in as Pakistan’s new prime minister offered a reality check. It threw light on the dire state of affairs that need immediate attention to haul the country out of the crisis, particularly in governance, health care and education sectors, and the economy.
In his more than an hour-long address, which is essentially a roadmap to a Naya (new) Pakistan, Imran outlined short and long-term plans that gave new hope to the nation. But Imran faces an uphill task to fulfil his promises in the wake of high public expectations and strong political opposition.
His rise to power itself was a major challenge as he took on the dynastic rule of two families who had been taking turns in governing Pakistan. Now that Imran has crossed the first hurdle, all eyes are glued on him to see how he intends to make Pakistan free of corruption.
If his address to the nation is anything to go by, Pakistan’s new premier seems to be very clear about his agenda. He has promised wide-ranging reforms that include safeguarding resources and redistributing them to the disadvantaged — the poor and forgotten class who are the majority in the country.
Imran’s vow to reform the colonial police system, the judiciary, health care, education, climate change and tax code to cope with the $91 billion (Dh334.69 billion) debt is music to the common man’s ears. So his austerity measures chime well with the pledge.
His plan to overhaul the education system and to educate the more than 25 million who are out of school will go a long way in empowering the people. New dams to help overcome water and energy crisis top his agenda and is a step in the right direction. Imran’s masterstroke was to keep control of the Ministry of Interior so that he can ensure the supremacy of law for people in all walks of life. It was a smart move to invite overseas Pakistanis, who are his ardent supporters, to invest in Pakistan and help bail the country out of the current economic crisis.
Imran will emerge a winner if he succeeds in implementing his economic and governance agendas. And Pakistan can only become stronger. But Imran should be wary of provoking the opposition, as he may quickly find his mission undermined by destructive politics.
Opposition parties should give the new prime minister a chance to implement his plans. They should avoid causing roadblocks. If they do, Pakistan and its people will be the losers.