Imran Khan has delivered a major speech at the World Government Forum in Dubai. His speech was one part personal revelation, one part a overview of PTI’s political philosophy and finally, Imran Khan invited his audience to invest in Naya Pakistan, travel to Naya Pakistan and familiarise themselves with the manifold positive changes occurring in Naya Pakistan.
Imran Khan began his speech by talking about a 1960s period in which Pakistan’s government was admired throughout all of Asia. He subsequently explained that the reason for Pakistan’s success at the time was because its civil service was constructed around a fully fledged meritocracy. At the same time, the Pakistani Prime Minister remarked that when he first started playing cricket professionally in Pakistan, the quality of cricket in the country was very low by global standards.
By the time that Imran Khan had retired from professional cricket, Pakistan was one of the best cricketing nations in the world. That being said, during this same period, the quality of governance had declined because meritocracy had been eliminated whilst a 1970s attitude that portrayed wealth among the common man as a sin, had led to a stagnant economy dominated by the corrupt oligarchs of nationalised industry.
However, Imran stated that the generous spirit of Pakistan had not been diminished in spite of decades of political neglect. Instead, he saw first hand how the spirit of giving remained pervasive among the Pakistani people when he raised funds to build the first modern cancer hospital in Pakistan. Today, the hospital offers free treatment to over 80% of all those admitted for treatment.
Turning back to his cherished models of clean and effective governance, Imran asked why Pakistan is among the most individually charitable nations on earth yet one where the collection of taxation continues to lag far behind others. The answer he discovered is that people simply do not trust that government will spend tax money in a just and equitable way.
This is why Imran stated that his priority of Pakistan remains reform. To accomplish this, he told his audience how he seeks to revive the progressive Islamic welfare state on the model of Medina at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In early Islamic Medina, Imran spoke about the first society in the world that made specific provisions for the care of the weak, the poor, the ill and the elderly. He further explained that in the time of the Prophet (PBUH), education was considered one of the most important elements of social life.
Imran further explained that in Medina, local men were often sent to China to learn about the latest scientific advances and when they returned, they helped to make the Islamic world a global leader in science, mathematics and medicine.
The combination of meritocracy within the framework of a just society that fairly spreads the burden of elevating the condition of the people, is what Imran explained is the penultimate model for Naya Pakistan. Turning to more modern influences, Imran Khan told his audience in Dubai that he first visited the UAE in 1980 as a cricketer and that after ever return visit he saw how society had improved and continued to modernise.
But the greatest modern inspiration for Naya Pakistan is what Imran Khan observed in China. Imran called China the “greatest model of success”, before remarking that in thirty years, China was able to lift 700 million people out of poverty – an achievement that has never previous occurred in all of human history.
With these ancient and modern examples as his inspiration, Imran discussed how for over a decade, he struggled to get his PTI party taken seriously by the neo-liberal elite of Pakistan. When the old corrupt political system appeared hopelessly rigged against PTI, he turned to the philosophy which guided him as a star cricketer. He stated:
“You only lose when you give up”.
He closed his speech by explaining that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP province), after seeing failed government after failed government, the people only give a political party one chance to improve things. Upon PTI’s formation of a regional coalition government in KP beginning in 2013, Imran’s party worked to invest in education, environmental sustainability and clean government – all the while aiding the fight against what remained of terrorist extremism.
As a result, poverty was reduced by half in KP and PTI won a majority in the provincial assembly at the same time as PTI won in Pakistan overall during the 2018 election. The fact that more people voted for PTI in 2018 than for any other party in any previous election is a testament to the fact that through hard work, one can achieve one’s goals.
Imran Khan’s road from champion cricketer to a politician maligned by the political elite was a difficult road, but as he explained, all paths to reform are difficult, in the same way in which one must endure a difficult surgery in order for one’s health to improve in the long term. But by demonstrating a commitment to a meritocratic state guided by clean government and the principles of elevating the condition of the people, Naya Pakistan will be a place where the wealthy can enjoy sound investments which result in a substantial return on the model of a forward looking economy, whilst the poor will be properly looked after by the wealth that an open and reformed economy creates.
Imran Khan’s full speech can be viewed below