For many in Pakistan, newly-elected Prime Minister Imran Khan is a breath of fresh air. His unorthodox campaign and dedication to improving the economic conditions of the poor and purging corruption have proven to be very popular, though there is much criticism over his former playboy persona and past behaviour, including multiple divorces. On Sunday, he stated that he would cut government expenditure, end widespread corruption and eliminate the high debt levels of the country, according to the Toronto Star.
Sunday’s statement was his first address to the nation as a premier, in which he provided his vision for the future of the country. Besides setting up an Islamic welfare system, Khan has also promised to end the ever-mounting levels of debt that are all too familiar to developing nations. “We have formed a bad habit of living on loans and aid from other countries. No country can prosper like this. A country must stand on its own feet,” the Guardian reports him stating.
Pakistan as a country has suffered significantly in the past decade. Its contributions to the war on terror has cost 60,000 lives, 1.8 million civilians and $118 billion (Agence France Presse, Internal Displacement Monitoring Center). The country continues to face problems of corruption, overpopulation, illiteracy and poverty. Khan’s populist appeal comes from his very strong stand against corruption, which “has resonated with young voters and the expanding middle class in the mainly Muslim nation of 208 million people,” per the Guardian.
As a first step, Khan has announced that he would not take the traditional palatial estate afforded to the Prime Minister with 524 servants. Instead, he would take a three bedroom house with only 2 servants. He would sell the fleet of bulletproof vehicles typically provided to the Prime Minister in order to cover treasury shortfalls. He also plans to cut the jobs of hundreds of public servants in order to better address this.
Time will only tell if Khan will be successful in driving Pakistan towards a brighter future. However, the relative decency and forgiveness with which he ran his campaign as contrasted with the opposition has put him in the spotlight and has been seen as a positive step for Pakistan.
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