I’m an optimist, I see good times ahead for Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan told the media in Davos, Switzerland, where he is for the World Economic Forum.
He began by talking about the importance of struggle and the bad times, relating anecdotes from his cricketing days and when he first entered politics.
You learn a valuable lesson, he said, adding that he has persevered, even when he was the butt of everyone’s jokes. Whether it was setting up Namal Institute or the Shaukat Khanum cancer hospital, PM Khan said he was determined.
You can’t have a Plan B, he advised his audience. Once, we got thrashed by India in cricket and in the dressing room we talked about how to get to Pakistan early enough that no one sees us, he said. But when we got there at 4am, the Customs people held us for two hours and made us go out when it was light, so the taxi drivers would see us and give us hell, recalled the premier. Two years later, we beat India and never even made it past Customs, he said. “There were over 150,000 people there to greet us.”
God has given us tremendous potential, we are His greatest creation, but we let ourselves down, he said. We only achieve that potential if we know how to struggle and have big dreams, said the premier.
“Whatever human mind can picture, we can achieve it.”
He urged people never to think about compromising on their dream or vision. I believe and always have believed in the dream of Pakistan, said PM Khan, adding that he grew up in the 60s, which were full of optimism and hope.
People believed in the country, he said. But we let ourselves down, because unfortunately our democracy couldn’t get grounded, he said. “When democracy faltered we had the army and the army came in and wanted pockets, who were not leaders,” he said. I always believed with good governance, this country will rise, he said.
He discussed restoring the vision of Pakistan’s founding fathers and making Pakistan into a humane, welfare state.
We neglected research and the basics, he said, lamenting that Pakistan did not spend enough on human resources. Education was just for a tiny number of elite, he criticised, adding that his government is moving towards inclusive development.
We are promoting industralisation, he explained, listing Pakistan’s national resources. Our biggest challenge is facing corrupt people, he said.
He said Pakistan is now heading towards export-led growth. Change is painful and people are hurting in Pakistan, he said.
“I’ve never faced so much abuse and been hammered in the media as I have in the past year and a half. In my 40 years in the spotlight, I’ve become used to criticism but this is an exception,” he said, adding that he has had to develop a thick skin.
“The first thing is do not read newspapers and second, do not watch evening chat shows,” he advised.
If we want to change the course and improve potential, we will have to grow through the same thing, he said.
For two years or so, we’ll have to struggle for a while, but I feel once we stick to these reforms, and have political will and courage, we will succeed, he said. I hate to see unemployment and people hurting at the bottom level, he said.
When you have a sick economy, reforms are a painful process, he said. We all want to go to heaven but we don’t want to die, said PM Khan.