A welfare state, strengthening of institutions, peace within Afghanistan and talks with India on Kashmir are some of the major policies that Imran Khan laid out in a press conference on Thursday. The results of Pakistan’s General Election 2018, held a day earlier, indicate that his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, has won a majority of seats in the general election. He went live from his residence in Bani Gala, Islamabad. I would like to thank Allah that my 22-year struggle… Allah has put me in a position to fulfill my dream for Pakistan,” he said. Now, I have an opportunity to implement the manifesto that I had when I came into politics 22 years ago.
He called it a historic election and said the people had made sacrifices. “I would like to salute the people of Balochistan who came out to vote despite all the threats,” he said, referring to the horrific bomb blast in Quetta early Wednesday, killing 32 people. He spoke of the killing of Ikram Gandapur and Haroon Bilour earlier on during campaign rallies. We had threats of a suicide attack at 10 places,” he said. “But our party continued.” He said his inspiration was the welfare state of the holy city of Medina, the first state that introduced a welfare system for the poor and orphans. “But our society is totally opposed to it,” he said. “We will run Pakistan on the same principles as the state of Medina.”
He said that they would make policies to empower the poor and weak, who cannot feed their children even after working hard the whole day. He said the PTI government’s focus would be human development. “A country is recognized by how the poor of that nation live.” He commended the security forces for their sacrifices. He said he was personally attacked many times during the campaign. “I have forgotten all the personal attacks.” He said there would not be any political victimization. He spoke of strengthening institutions. “Accountability will start from me and my cabinet before anyone else.”
Pakistan’s biggest challenge is economic, he said. There is a record fiscal and trade deficit. The dollar is at an all-time high. This is because institutions are not working properly, he said. The PTI government would woo overseas Pakistanis which Imran Khan said were Pakistan’s biggest asset. “They don’t invest in Pakistan because of corruption,” he said. He said that the way the “ruling elite had been spending the exchequer’s money” was the major reason why people did not pay taxes.
Imran Khan said that he would not live in Prime Minister House. “Our govt will decide what to do with PM House,” he said. “It will be used for public purposes.” One idea was to turn it into a hotel. He said that all the government resorts could generate money if they were rented. The PTI government would also work on policies with the business community. The government will help farmers, and small business owners. “We will make policies for the oppressed section of society.”
Imran Khan said that Pakistan was facing major challenges on the foreign policy front. “No country needs peace more than Pakistan.” He would strengthen Pakistani relations with China and would use CPEC to bring in more foreign investment. The people of Afghanistan have paid the biggest price for the ‘war on terror’. “They need peace,” he said. “Peace in Pakistan is tied with a peaceful Afghanistan.” The US thinks that it helps Pakistan fight its war on terror, which is hurting us. “We want a balanced relation with the US. We want to play the role of mediator in the Middle East.”
He said he was saddened by the way the Indian media portrayed him as if he were a villain of a Bollywood flick. “I am probably one of those rare Pakistanis who has seen all of India,” he said. He talked about Kashmir being a core issue. Its people have suffered a lot. “India and Pakistan should come to the table,” he said. “If Indian leadership is ready, we are ready to talk.” If they take one step, we will take two steps. “But what has been going on is that they have been playing a blame game.” He said India kept blaming Pakistan for everything in Kashmir and Pakistan kept blaming India for everything that was happening in Balochistan. “This brought us back to square one.”
Imran Khan addressed the allegations of rigging this election. The main political parties have already held press conferences to air their concerns. Imran Khan said, ostensibly in response to this, that the Election Commission had been formed by “two major political parties, not the PTI”. The PTI had waged a massive street agitation and protest sit-ins against what it had said was rigging in the 2013 election, which it lost. At this point in time, analysts are saying that the allegations could mar the PTI’s success. “We will open [inspect] all the constituencies where they have doubt,” he said. “All these parties who have been making accusations of rigging, opposed me when I wanted four constituencies inspected.”