Washington: Citing the decline of the Mughal Empire in India, Prime Minister Imran Khan took a jibe at the opposition parties in Pakistan for the country’s current state of affairs and blamed them for promoting dynasties and not merit.
Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician who is on his first visit to the US, addressed a gathering of the Pakistani diaspora in Washington on Sunday and told them his government has taken steps during the past year to hold elected leaders accountable, referring to the ongoing crackdown on top opposition politicians like former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari.
“What’s happening today in Pakistan is Naya [new] Pakistan. Where the powerful are being held accountable,” Khan, who was elected as Pakistan’s prime minister in August last year, said.
Khan said he is determined to bring a system of merit recognition in the country.
During the speech, he gave the example of the Mughal Empire to highlight his point.
“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.”
“India was the super power of the world during the Mughal Empire. During those 150 years, India’s GDP was more than 25 per cent of that of the world. But soon it declined as the successors of the Mughal Empire after Aurangzeb were not capable enough,” he said.
Khan inherited a severe economic and financial crisis. He borrowed huge sums from China and Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan, which currently has a currency reserve of less than $8 billion -- enough to cover only 1.7 months of imports -- approached the Washington-based IMF in August 2018 for a bailout package after the Imran Khan government took over.
The IMF early this month formally approved the USD 6 billion loan to Pakistan, which is facing “significant” economic challenges on the back of “large” fiscal and financial needs and “weak and unbalanced” growth.
Khan said that China’s ruling Communist Party has the best system to identify, groom and promote people with merit.
“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,” he said.
Pakistan, he said, currently facing “education apartheid”, which does not give opportunities to people with merit to progress.
Khan said merit and equality for all is his vision for Pakistan.
Pakistan is lagging behind other nations of the world due to corruption, he said.
Every foreign company, whom he meets, Khan said tells him they cannot invest in Pakistan because of massive corruption. Khan took a dig at his two political opponents Sharif and Zardari.
“While Sharif was groomed by a dictator, Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto became leaders on basis of some piece of paper that left party behind to them,” he said.
Sharif, he alleged, has been asking for air-condition in his jail ward and wants food from home.
“I am going to go back and make sure there is no air conditioning or no TV for Nawaz Sharif. I know Maryam Bibi (Sharif’s daughter) will make some noise, but I say to her, return the money. It’s as simple as that,” he said amidst cheers from his supporters.
Similarly, when every time Zardari goes to jail he falls ill and goes to hospital, Khan said.
“He spends most of his time in hospital,” Khan said, adding “This time, he won’t go to the hospital ward.”
Khan promised to give a clean and corruption-free government.
“It’s my dream that one day people from across the world would come to Pakistan seeking a job,” he said.