‘Today, over 30,000 Pakistanis descended upon Capital One Arena in Washington DC. Na biryani thi, na paisay baante gayay na hi buses bher ker zinda laashain layi gayeen. Instead doctors, engineers, lawyers, accountants & businessmen spent hundreds of dollars & traveled from Europe, Canada and all over the US to welcome IK.’
DESPARDES — Accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Adviser to the PM for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, and Minister of State for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari, Prime Minister Imran Khan waved his hand at the huge crowd of overseas Pakistanis (OPs) — mostly youth, inside the Capital One Arena in Washington Sunday and said ‘Naya Pakistan’ was being created in front of people’s eyes.
“18,500 Indians attended Modi’s speech at Madison Square Garden New York on 28.09.2014 & 800 more gathered at Times Square for a live feed of the speech. Indian-Americans, one of the wealthiest diaspora communities in the US, got tickets through 400 partner organizations across the US, and the media dubbed it the largest gathering in the US for any foreign leader.
Until 21.07.2019, that is.
Today, over 30,000 Pakistanis descended upon Capital One Arena in Washington DC. Na biryani thi, na paisay baante gayay na hi buses bher ker zinda laashain layi gayeen. Instead doctors, engineers, lawyers, accountants & businessmen spent hundreds of dollars & traveled from Europe, Canada and all over the US to welcome IK. Pakistani community that’s 1/6th the size of Indians outdid them by packing this stadium to ruins its capacity, while thousands more thronged the streets outside in 40 degrees heat!
Americans just haven’t seen anything like this before! Poocha gya kon aya tha? Bataya gya Khan aya tha.”
“People ask where is ‘Naya Pakistan‘, it is being created in front of your eyes,” the premier told thousands of Pakistanis.
“Today, what you see happening in Pakistan is what Naya Pakistan was about.”
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Khan said the problem in Pakistan was that when political leaders were asked for answers, they say that political revenge is being taken, and when courts make decisions they say ‘kyun nikala’.
“These people had never been asked for answers before”.
Khan pointed out two main reasons — a system of merit and accountability — due to which democracy had succeeded as a governance system and left monarchy behind. In Pakistan, he said these reasons were amiss.
He highlighted that America had succeeded thanks to a system based on meritocracy, through which good leaders replaced bad ones.
He regretted that in Pakistan there was a “type of monarchy” and merit did not come into play in the country.
“A society that doesn’t have merit, doesn’t go forward.”
Citing a sports example, PM Khan said the Australian cricket team had dominated the sport as they have a system that brings up talent and relies on merit.
“I have played cricket all around the world. I have seen the most cricketing talent in Pakistan. But [because] there is no system of merit, we can’t bring that talent up.
“This is why we are not dominating the world [in cricket] — because there is no meritocracy.”
The premier said a second factor that took democracy forward was leaders being held accountable.
“Democracy is successful when the leadership is answerable.”
Khan said the cases against political leaders in Pakistan were not new.
“All the cases against them are old. We did not [start] any case […] all we have done is make institutions independent.”
He said two things — public office holders being held accountable and merit — were required to lift the country up.
“Anyone who is a public office holder should answer to the people.”
While referring to political leaders in the country, the premier said: “They have one purpose, they want to hear three words from me: NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance].”
He said that now the powerful individuals in Pakistan were being held accountable, which included the seizure of their benami properties.
“Remember this is the time that Pakistan will change, it is changing before you.”
The premier added that a merit-based system was required in the country.
“A system of merit will come when family-based politics end.
The premier said that ten years ago, the country’s debt was Rs6,000 billion.
“After ten years, these two raised it to Rs30,000 billion,” referring to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari.
“Where did the money go? We need to take [back] this money from them. I want to tell them again that you can do what you want.
“Everyone comes together to save democracy, to save their money. Come together, if you want to stage a ‘dharna’, I will give you containers.
“Do what you want, you will have to return the money.”
While referring to Nawaz, PM Imran said that he would remove the former premier’s TV and air conditioner from jail.
“I know that Maryam [Nawaz] bibi will make a lot of noise, but Maryam bibi give back the money, then he can go from jail.”
PM Imran said that he had noticed that when former president Zardari went to jail, he would spend all of his time in the hospital.
“Asif Zardari, [we] will also keep you in jail, there will no TV nor will there be an air conditioner.”
“It is very easy to be released from jail: return the money, we will release you from jail.”
“Until today, the powerful in Pakistan were never questioned. This is the biggest change and this is why our country will rise.”
Khan and President Donald Trump will meet on Monday to discuss ‘South Asia peace’ and ‘enduring partnership’.
His maiden trip to US capital in a commercial flight, and moving around in an austere way, sans protocol has sent a powerful message to Pakistanis, observers say.