Pakistani men watch a television broadcasting the speech of newly appointed Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan as he addresses the nation, at a restaurant in Peshawar on August 19, 2018. Image Credit: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Contrary to politicians’ mixed reactions to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s austerity campaign, general public by and large have welcomed it saying this is something unprecedented in the 70-year history of Pakistan.

While talking to Gulf News, a cross section of society — youth, teachers, lawyers, traders, office workers and businessmen — hailed the decisions taken in the federal cabinet’s meeting on Friday. They included a ban on first class air travel by government officials, abolition of discretionary powers of the President, Prime Minister and Cabinet members to use government funds and many others aimed to cut down the government expenses.

Fixing the financial woes

Mohammad Nadeem, a financial analyst and article writer, is of the view that Imran Khan has a vision to fix the financial woes of the country. At present, Pakistan’s current deficit has soared to $18 billion (Dh66 billion) and the country’s foreign currency reserves cover less than two months of imports, said Nadeem adding we cannot afford luxuries of discretionary funds or a fleet of expensive cars. Imran Khan has taken the first step in the right direction and all of us should support him.

Relying on Pakistan’s own resources

Arafat Ahmad, a member of civil society and a lawyer by profession takes pride in the fact that Khan has initiated his plan to broaden tax network and is convincing the affluent Pakistanis to contribute to Pakistan’s economy by paying taxes. We are a country of 220 million people but less than a million pay taxes here, he regretted. “If Imran Khan succeeds in his reforms he will be “Mahathir Mohammad of Pakistan,” he said.

Bringing back out-of-school children

Shomaila Sikandar a teacher at a local school in Islamabad voted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for the sole reason that Imran Khan has promised to bring back 250 million out-of-school children of 8-16 years age group back to schools.

Introduction of ‘true’ local government system

Farhat Babar, a lady councillor at Islamabad’s union council is hopeful that Khan will revive local government in its true spirit. In his interviews and speeches, Imran Khan has been promising to hold direct elections for the mayors and deputy mayors. In this way they will be held accountable to their voters and serve them for the sake of re-election, she said.

Environment-friendly prime minister

Majority of youths have expressed their support for PTI and Imran Khan because of their ‘environment-friendly’ policies. Osama, Talha and Uzair, three friends living in Rawalpindi, said they supported Imran Khan because he is environment-friendly prime minister and has been drawing people’s attention towards the threat of global warming. “I stand by his vision of planting 10 billion trees all over Pakistan,” said Osama adding he and his friends will contribute to Khan’s vision by planting trees outside their houses and in gardens.

 

Officials to be named and shamed

■ Ban on first class travel for top officials, including Prime Minister and President 
■ Ban on business class travel for all government officials 
■ Ban on meals during official meetings 
■ Ban on purchase of cars 
■ Ban on recruitment of drivers 
■ Collect and auction all SUV’s being misused in government departments 
■ Government vehicles in shopping malls and outside schools and at residences to be photographed and reported for seizure 
■ Identify and name and shame those illegally using vehicles and staff at residences 
■ Ban on government functions in 4/5 Star hotels.
■ Cancellation of all contractual re-employments over the age of 60 
■ Minimum use of stationery in office 
■ Limited use of air conditioners in office, ACs will be switched on only after 11am and at 26 degree Celsius 
■ Minimum use of lighting fixers during office hours