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Imran Khan: The People’s Prime Minister – Always Was & Will Be!

youth pakistan, nabeel qadeer, universities of pakistan
DirAction Empowering the Youth of South Punjab
March 31, 2022
This Book Is about Pakistan by Nabeel Qadeer
This Book Is About PAKISTAN
March 23, 2022

*This article was published as a tweet thread on 10th March, 2022. 

From cricket to philanthropy to politics, The “Great” Khan established himself as a people’s leader. ‘Kaptaan’, as he is more fondly known nationwide, is a man who has set standards of dreaming big, managing failure & unmatched resilience – qualities he has nurtured ever since his cricketing days.

May it be the 1992 World Cup or Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Imran Khan’s actions for his country have always spoken louder than words. When it came to building Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital, it was his empathy and clarity that drove him. While the World Cup brought the entire nation on one page, the campaign to build SKMCH united the nation by giving it a common purpose.

When he decided to enter politics, it was to uplift his people and push them towards their full potential - something he had always done with his teams. 

One thing Imran Khan knows how to do better than anyone else is the ability to make the masses ask the right questions. His 26-year long struggle against corruption started in 1996 with a handful of believers. 

The October 30th, 2011 iconic jalsa at Minar-e-Pakistan was the turning point for his political party making PTI a phenomenon. The youth Khan had been investing in for decades, showed up on this day in groups of tens of thousands. Every street resonated with slogans of accountability and transparency. Questioning your government and demanding logical, documented answers became an expectation.

The July 25th General Elections of 2018 marked the rise of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), where the party bagged an unprecedented number of seats in the National Assembly; 116 to be exact. Khan, himself, won all five seats that he contested from. PTI formed government under the leadership of Imran Khan.

The revolution had begun!

Imran Khan’s vision was always to see a high-esteemed nation and to turn Pakistan into a welfare state.

The key words were: Responsibility, Empathy and Self-Belief. Simply put, to make Pakistan self-reliant, the economy had to be strengthened, its stance be put across for bilateral ties to be made more favourable, and human capital be invested in for sustainable socioeconomic growth.

His government inherited the current account deficit of USD 20 Billion which has been reduced to USD 1.93 Billion in December, 2021. The borrowing from the State Bank stood at PKR 6 Trillion and tax collection comprising less than 10% of GDP. After Imran Khan came to power, borrowing has been brought down to zero. 

Since Imran Khan assumed the premiership, Pakistan's international positioning has improved multi-folds in the last 3.5 years through strategically curated international relations.

From the onset, the approach, in one word, has been "bold".

Pakistan received financial assistance at a testing time, trade opportunities have opened up (record-high USD 25 Billion recorded in Fiscal Year 2020-2021) and has gained international support for humanity-based matters including atrocities in Kashmir and Palestine.

In the first year of Imran Khan assuming the role of Prime Minister, Pakistan initiated diplomatic efforts with China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Turkey, Malaysia, Iran and Russia. Khan visited China thrice in his first year as the PM to increase Chinese investment in Pakistan and to reinvigorate the USD 60 Billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Qatar-Pakistan relations also saw an agreement in the fields of trade, investment, tourism and financial intelligence. Friendly visits between Turkey and Pakistan placed a strong emphasis on forming a strong economic relationship and combating Islamophobia, advancing shared goals of regional peace, security and stability.

In 2019, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Pakistan with investments worth more than USD 20 Billion and granted USD 9.6 Billion as payment holiday along with releasing 2,080 prisoners by 2020. UAE too extended a support package worth USD 4.7 Billion to help Pakistan with its Balance of Payments. 

When the forced lockdown of Kashmir started on August 5th, 2019 by India, PM Imran Khan took a powerful stance against this atrocity. Him raising the alarm in front of the World Economic Forum, United Nations and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), turned his speeches into an international calling to resolve the crisis.

Feeling for the suffering of Kashmiris, Prime Minister Imran Khan extended an open invitation for peace talks with India. This showed his inclusive approach to improve the region from the very start. The opening of the Kartarpur Corridor with a visa-free entry for all pilgrims, was a hallmark in promoting peace in the region.

Where Mahathir Mohammad stood by with Imran Khan to strengthen the Islamic world, Tayyip Erdogan gave a strong message of brotherhood at the Joint Session of the National Assembly by showing full support to Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir. 

Pak-US ties have taken a turn with PM’s clear stance & rejection of being an ally of US-led war. It may have had an economic effect but success lies in zero drone attacks since 2018. 

His diplomacy has won on the international front gaining economic-political benefits for Pakistan. The country’s geo-strategic position had put Pakistan at the helm of the region's peace and security. Under the leadership of PM Imran Khan, Pakistan played a very crucial role in the Afghan Peace Process between the US, Afghan government and Taliban. Further, Pakistan has also actively mediated the US-Iran Conflict.

It was the result of his efforts to unify and enable the Muslim Ummah that resulted in the recent visit of Uzbekistan’s President to the Federal Capital. The two countries decided to lobby against the international community that had frozen Afghan assets in the aftermath of Taliban's takeover in Afghanistan, and expedite unfreezing of the state’s assets. 

Recently, his decision to go forward with his scheduled meeting with Valadamir Putin despite opposition from various quarters, has opened up multi-faceted pathways for the country’s development. History was created - for the first time in 23 years any Prime Minister from Pakistan had visited Russia and that too amidst war. As opposed to previous times, this time no foreign force could alter the visit, giving a strong message to the outside forces to not try to interfere with Pakistan’s sovereignty. 

This bold and strategic move may bring some hard consequences in the short run but will prove to be a major shift towards a progressive Pakistan in the long run. Russia has already agreed to invest in Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline – a project worth more than USD 2 Billion to help Pakistan overcome its ever-increasing energy demands.

PM Imran Khan’s approach to economic development has been inclusive, bottom-up and simpleinvest in human capital for a sustainable and stronger economy; Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22 reflected the same. The PKR 8 Trillion outlay has a smart, well thought-out nexus for expenditure. It reflects a methodical and focused take on reviving the economy post COVID-19. The results may take time but impact is inevitable.

Institutional efforts have improved the situation at various fronts – Pakistan ranks 108 on the Ease of Doing Business scale, a jump from 147 in 2018. Resources have been mobilized through foreign remittance facilitation by introduction & expansion of innovative schemes such as Roshan Digital Account and Pakistan Remittances Initiatives.

As a result, in FY21, foreign remittances rose to a historic high of USD 29.4 Billion (27% Year-on-Year growth) and tax revenue collection grew by 18% (PKR 4.7 Trillion). 

With the recent IT incentive package being announced by the Prime Minister, major steps have been taken to uplift the tech sector of Pakistan. Long-held issues of taxation and payments for IT companies, startups and freelancers were addressed with drastic measures such as 100% tax exemption, introduction of Specialised Foreign Currency Accounts with 100% retention and setting up of Pakistan Technology Startup Fund (a public-private partnership VC fund).

Khan’s fight has always been for the poor, underprivileged and the marginalized. Ehsas, globally acclaimed and Pakistan’s largest social welfare program, is engineered on empathy and equality that lie at the core of Prime Minister’s vision. Since its launch, Ehsas Program has set a mark for public sector effectiveness, transparency and impact via multidimensional poverty alleviation initiatives.

Its measures include but are not limited to giving interest-free loans to over 1.2 Million households, cash transfer worth PKR 47 Billion among 4 Million beneficiaries, scholarships to 50,000 students from 117 universities and Emergency Cash during the pandemic.

Further, it has set up Panahgahs that provides shelter to the shelterless, offers free meals through mobile food banks, and promotes women's financial and digital inclusion. In addition, Sehat Sahulat Program provides micro-health-insurance to the underprivileged, offering free healthcare coverage.

Pakistan’s strategic response to COVID-19 has been extraordinary and a case study of crisis management for the world. It was Prime Minister Imran Khan’s farsightedness that led him to implement ‘smart lockdown’ to cushion Pakistan from economic dip during the pandemic. The approach is simple - strategic over reactionary.

The strategy included setting up National Command and Operation Centre, data-driven smart lockdowns, patient tracking to control spread of the virus, universal vaccination, quarantine centres and special COVID19 wards, ensuring supply of medical goods and local manufacturing of ventilators & vaccination.

Last week Pakistan hit the mark of 100 Million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Whereas more than 127 Million people out of a total of 220 Million population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

PM Imran Khan has worked diligently to gather the youth and spark in them a desire to uplift this country’s future. Kamyab Jawan Program is a testimony of his belief in the youth’s potential and his priority to nurture young minds. 

Kamyab Jawan Program creates economic opportunities for the youth via business loans, skills training and engagement. The new 4-tier loan program offers collateral-free loans up to PKR 2M for micro-entrepreneurs, and higher token size of PKR 25 Million and PKR 50 Million for SMEs, that will uplift 4 Million households - that means approximately 40 Million individuals being impacted through entrepreneurial microloans, skills scholarship, kamyab kissan and low-cost housing scheme.

To date PKR 33 Billion have been disbursed as business loans and 74,737 youngsters have been provided training under its skills scholarship program while allocating PKR 25 Billion specifically for women.

To cater to the financial issues of low-income households the government will be disbursing loans worth PKR 1400 Billion to 3.7 Million families under the Kamyab Pakistan Programme. Not only that, the government is also giving loans under 'Naya Pakistan Housing Project’ - a low-cost housing scheme that will provide 5 million housing units over a period of five years.  

Clean Green Pakistan is an emblem of Pakistan’s commitment to climate change. The Ten Billion Tree Tsunami is inspiring efforts globally. To no surprise, it has achieved the UN Climate Action SDG a decade before the deadline.

On the water and food security front, construction of 10 dams and hydropower projects has been initiated by the government. Besides generating cheaper electricity, it will also make the country’s 8 Million acres of land cultivable.

On the education front, formation of a national single-curriculum has been nothing less than a feat. The Prime Minister has always been a strong proponent of a quality and uniform education system for all and this is the first step in that direction. Namal University is a proof of that vision - it's free, it's merit-based and open to all.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s attention to passing landmark decisions against crimes that damage the social fabric speaks multifolds of the pain he feels for his people. The Zainab Alert, Recovery and Response Bill was approved - a step he says that should have been taken long ago.

Pakistan has evolved in these 3.5 years under the transformational leadership displayed by Prime Minister Imran Khan. His brave and forward-looking stance on matters of national interest, and a value-based decision-making approach has finally given the young people of this country a leader to look up to. 

Imran Khan’s political journey has shown what resilience, unwavering faith and power of determination can do – not just for one man, but for an entire nation! His efforts have not only been to strengthen Pakistan but to also make it a fort for the Muslim Ummah.

Imran Khan is the people's Prime Minister - always was and always will be. Motions will come and go, but the confidence of the people will remain. He is backed by the nation's prayers and is a man of trust - two things that can't be challenged.