Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday asked the international community to help end the decades of conflict in Afghanistan and help the people there achieve peace.
“The world should try its best to bring peace in Afghanistan. There has been conflict there for 40 years. Their people have faced such hardships.
“It is time now that the world help Afghanistan achieve peace,” he said, while addressing a ceremony at Islamabad’s Convention Centre to unveil PTI’s performance over the last three years.
“The Taliban are trying to reach an inclusive political settlement, which we wanted from them in the Doha talks, they are speaking of human rights and have granted a general amnesty, they have vowed they will not allow the use of their soil against any other country, and this is what the world wanted,” he said.
PM Imran Khan said that the Afghan nation is a “brave nation, fearless and one to fight”.
“If it wasn’t, then we must remember that one million Afghans were martyred while fighting the Soviets. No one has fought like them for their independence.
“So we must ponder over this: why did they not fight? The Taliban were only 70,000-odd strong. And the army was 300,000 in number, equipped with weapons and tanks. Why did they not fight?
“Because no one fights for a corrupt government,” he said, to applause by the audience.
The prime minister said that the Afghans have a “psyche” whereby whichever foreign power attempts to influence the country, the nation stands up against them. “They fight for their independence.”
“So they were never going to fight for a Western-backed government.”
The PTI has released a 256-page performance report to highlight the achievements since the party came into power in 2018.
The prime minister thanked his entire team and his allies — PML-Q, BAP and MQM, GDA — who stood with the party in the last three years.
Earlier in the ceremony, welcoming the audience, he especially greeted the newly elected Azad Jammu and Kashmir government representatives.
He quipped: “I was looking at Faisal Javed Khan. He is so enthused always whenever he gets a mic, he never lets go of it, like in our jalsa days.”
The premier also lauded Sindh Governor Imran Ismail’s talent for producing PTI anthems, saying it may very well overshadow his performance as a governor. Ismail earlier sang “tabdeeli aayi re” in the event, besides humming a tune in the making for “mujhhe kyoon nikala”.
Performances were also given by Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi and Abrarul Haq, besides several video clips played to showcase the PTI’s and Imran Khan’s struggle over the years.
‘We must never fear hard times’
PM Imran Khan, when he spoke, shed light on the importance of the youth recognising that our prayer to God to put us on the path of blessings, not of ruin, is the path of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
“If we want to be great, God has already laid out the path for us.”
The prime minister recalled how he was mocked in the party’s early days, but said that he continued to focus on one thing: how the Holy Prophet (PBUH) saw such hard times but remained resolute.
“We must never fear such times. Yes, this is a hard time (for Pakistan), but we must not panic.”
“The ups and downs in life prepare you (for greatness),” he said.
Addressing the youth, he said: “Don’t ever think that life is easy. If it is easy, that means you have no standing.”
“Whoever stands on the true path, has to face difficulties. All of Allah’s messengers faced troubles. And that is the path we believe in.
“But people want an easy way out and at the same time seek the path of blessings […] you must never cry over such times.
“If you understand and analyse such things properly, you will see that the tough path is the path to your success,” he said.
The premier added: “No one has achieved success without failing. It is impossible for someone to just land on his feet.”
“No one has become a leader with shortcuts. Look at the struggle of Quaid-e-Azam. If there is one leader I believe in, it is him.
“The way he struggled, especially towards in end, during his illness. He did not do it for his personal gain, he did so for a greater purpose. And this is why people will continue to laud him.”
The prime minister said that last three years were spent with “great difficulty” after having inherited a bankrupt country left behind by past rulers.
“Our reserves were [low], our liabilities [high]. We had no money to pay back our debtors. We were not going to default, we were in the process of defaulting, because we had no foreign exchange.”
In difficult times, Saudi Arabia, UAE and China helped, PM Imran Khan said, adding that without their help, the rupee would have declined further.
He also spoke of other challenges: the coronavirus crisis, and before that the Pulwama incident.
‘Thank God for the Pakistan Army’
“I thank God, we have the kind of armed forces that we do. When [India] bombarded us in the middle of the night, I realised then that if we did not have the kind of army that we rely on so much, what would we do before such a powerful opponent?”
“And this mafia that gave speeches against our army […] I too have spoken out against the army in the past […] everyone makes mistakes, but the aim is not to malign them.
“They are after the army because they want them to topple the government. You call yourselves a democratic government and seek the removal of a democratic government?” he said, in criticism of India.
“The Indian lobby is trying its best to malign the Pak Army […] and this has been going on for a while,” said the premier.
He said that it is due to the confidence that the country has in the Pakistan Army, that it was able to boldly tell the Modi government that if they tried anything, Pakistan will provide a befitting response.
The premier also spoke of 480 drone attacks in Pakistan, when it had partnered with the US in the fight against terrorism.
“The heirs of those who were killed in US drone strikes would then exact revenge against Pakistan,” he said.
The prime minister vowed that Pakistan will never render any sacrifices for any other country ever again.
PM Imran Khan said that with all major economic indicators showing upward trends, the present government, despite various challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, had put the country’s economy on right path in the last three years.
The premier said that when the PTI came into power, the current account deficit stood at $20 billion, and now, after three years, it stands at $1.8 billion.
He said that foreign exchange reserves increased from $16.4 billion to $27 billion, revenue collection from Rs3,800 billion to Rs4,700 billion, and workers’ remittances from $19.9 billion to $29.4 billion.
He said that in the PTI’s three-year rule, a record number of motorcycles, cars and tractors were sold.
“These figures are not Ishaq Dar’s figures. They’re real,” he said, at one point, in criticism of the former finance minister.
He said after 10 years, Pakistan’s industries are witnessing a boom, and that the cement industry, for example, had seen a 42% growth in sales.
PM Imran Khan said that while in 10 years of PML-N rule, the Punjab Anti Corruption Establishment had recovered Rs2.5 billion, in the last three years, the PTI government has recovered Rs450 billion through the Punjab ACE.
The premier said that the PTI is the first government that has decided to uplift the lower segments of society, and in this spirit, it launched programmes the likes of which were never before seen in Pakistan.
He said the Ehsaas Programme, the flagship PTI programme for the eradication of poverty, used to give out Rs110 billion in aid and now a Rs260 billion allotment has been made for the purpose.
PM Imran Khan also spoke of interest-free loans for four million deserving families, and the Kissan Card for subsidies for farmers, which he said will now be launched in Gilgit-Baltistan, after being introduced in Punjab.
He said that construction of 10 dams will take place, and the Diamar-Bhasha Dam will be complete in 2025.
The prime minister also highlighted the Single National Curriculum, which has kickstarted in Punjab and will soon feature a Seerat-e-Nabvi course for grades 8, 9 and 10, to teach students of the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
For backward areas of Sindh and Balochistan — 14 districts in Sindh and 8 in Balochistan, to be specific — a Rs1,400 billion has been announced, he said.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said the world is raising a hue and cry over the fate of women under Taliban rule, but said it begs the question: “Has any foreign power ever come into a country and ensured its citizens get rights?”
“It is women themselves who have ever secured their own rights. Our women have the power to get their rights. We need only empower them with education.
“In England or the West, did any foreign power ever get the women rights? They worked hard to secure their own rights. And this is what our government has focused on immensely,” PM Imran Khan said.
He went on to speak of how succession certificates have been made easy to acquire through NADRA. “The biggest benefit is that we are ensuring inheritance laws which give women a share in inheritance.”