KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is in US on a three-day official visit, addressed a ‘record-setting’ gathering of the Pakistani diaspora in Washington early on Monday.
PM Imran Khan was warmly welcomed at Capital One Arena. The excitement of overseas Pakistanis in DC was touching the skies, as the whole arena echoed with ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans.
The program was started with the recitation of Holy Quran. National anthems of the two countries were also played on the occasion.
The Junoon’s Salman Ahmed mesmerised a jam-packed audience with their extraordinary lively performance with the immortal song “Hey Jazba Junoon Tu Himmat Na Haar”.
Addressing the charged participants, PM Imran said: “I thank you from the heart for giving me so much respect today. I had thought that in Washington we will call 500-1000 people to a hotel and speak to them. I couldn’t even fathom that I would get to speak to you in such a big arena.”
Khan highlighted the importance of merit, saying: “Nations that have gone ahead in world are those who have achieved progress on basis of meritocracy.
Imran Khan added: “I will give you example of cricket. Australia is that team which has been the most successful in cricket; why? This is because Australia has a system that nurtures and lets talent rise.”
He said: “If there is anywhere in the world that I have seen the best of cricketing talent; it is in Pakistan. But because we don’t have a system of merit, our talent is not given the opportunity to rise”
PM said: In dynasties, the son of a King may not necessarily be a good leader. In democracies like the US, it’s the system of merit that lets their people choose their leaders, adding: “There is a reason why the Muslim world has been left behind; the Mughal Empire was at its peak and then went into decline because successive dynastic rulers did not have the capability to lead.
Taking a jibe at opponents, PM Imran said: “Nawaz Sharif was propped up by dictator. Asif Zardari & Bilawal became leaders on basis of some piece of paper that left party behind to them. Similar stories with other parties.”
He said: “You go anywhere in the world, see China’s communist party and you see how they reward merit and let the best of the best come up. The beauty of democracy is merit.”
PM said: “In democracy, it is the leader of the country who is accountable. This is a very important tenet of our religion as well; that leaders are accountable , adding: “But in Pakistan; when courts make a decision, they say ‘Kyun Nikala‘.”
Khan further said: “What’s happening today in Pakistan is ‘Naya Pakistan’. Where the powerful are being held accountable.”
Recalling the days when the system was prospering in the country, PM said: “When I was growing up, Pakistan was an exemplary country in the subcontinent with the best civil services and bureaucracy. Our hospitals were top quality and people from the outside would come and study in Pakistan.”
He said: “We, however sadly saw Pakistan decline. And then we started seeing the use of money and buying of public office in politics.”
Khan said: “But today, Naya Pakistan is a place where every public office holder is accountable to the people.
He said they want to hear three letters; NRO, adding that despite the messages even from the outside, he will not let accountability go.
Premier further said that their undeclared properties are being seized. “The billions they have taken overseas, Pakistan is in talks with other governments to bring that looted wealth back to Pakistan.”
Imran Khan said: “We will attract investment from the world by cleaning up corruption and showing an honest government to the world.”
State of Madina
PM said that Madina was the first state made on the basis of welfare and justice. “It had empathy for the weak; for widows, orphans, the elderly, the most downtrodden, adding that minorities had equal rights in the state of Madina. It formed the basis for modern day society as we know it today.”
“There was a system of merit in which no one was discriminated against on the basis of class, gender, religion,” said PM.
He added that women were given rights for the first time in the state of Madina. “It is unfortunate that our women in so many parts of Pakistan do not get their rights. But we are bringing in laws to protect the women of Pakistan .”
He also expressed his disappointment over the dismal performance of Pakistan cricket team in the world cup 2019, and pledged to reform the structure of the team: saying, “This is our vision for Pakistan. Merit & Equality for all! Even Pakistan cricket team is an example of lack of merit in our systems. But I promise you I will also change Pakistan cricket system; there have been enough disappointments “.
Responding to a question he said: “We will also fix PIA. Don’t worry, it is on my radar. When we took power, every institution in Pakistan was in deep losses. We are going through a difficult transition but you will see all these institutions move towards profitability.”
“Pakistan’s debt stands at 30,000 billion today. In 60 years Pakistan’s debt was at 6000 billion. And in the last 10 years it has climbed to 30,000 billion. Where did this money go? This is the money we will bring back from them.”
He again flayed the opponents saying that Nawaz Sharif wants food from home in jail, he wants air conditioning in jail. “But in a country where half the population has no air conditioning or TV, what kind of a punishment would this be?”
PM assured “I am going to go back and make sure there is no air conditioning or no TV for Nawaz Sharif. I know Maryam Bibi will make some noise, but I say to her, return the money. It’s as simple as that”.
Asif Ali Zardari
“Every time Asif Ali Zardari goes to jail, he gets ill. This time, he won’t go to the hospital ward, he will be in jail. Without AC or without any TV.”
In last, PM said that he came into politics 23 years ago, he has never bowed his head in front of anyone to date except for Allah, adding , “I‘ll InshAllah never let my nation bow their head in front of anyone.”
PM Khan’s community address is being considered distinctive as in the past visiting leaders used to address expatriates in community halls or closed door rooms in hotels.
The Capital One Arena was reportedly filled with more than 20,000 people, as the charged participants had started filling the Arena hours before the address of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi
Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also addressed the participants and said: “We have not come here with a begging bowl! We have not come with any aid demands. We’re here because PM Imran Khan will share with President Trump, the road-map of ‘Naya Pakistan’.”
Qureshi said: “We’re here to open new corridors on borders that were previously closed. I am referring to Kartarpur & CPEC. We’re here to invite investors of US to invest in Pakistan.”
The minister said: “Many Pakistani Prime Ministers have visited US but this the first PM in history who didn’t charter a Boeing 777 but took a commercial flight. Who chose to stay at Pakistan House rather an expensive hotel.”
The PM is on a three-day visit to the US along with the top military leadership. During the visit, he will hold a one-on-one meeting with President Donald Trump on Monday (today) at the White House.
Trump and Khan will discuss a range of issues, including counter-terrorism, defense, energy, and trade, with the goal of creating the conditions for a peaceful South Asia and an enduring partnership between the two countries.
Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan invited overseas businessmen and investors to benefit from the economic and business opportunities provided by Pakistan’s strategic location and the connectivity to the broader regions.
The cricketer-turned-politician arrived here aboard a commercial flight and is staying at the official residence of the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed Khan.