KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 (Bernama) -- Pakistani’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is a man with a mission – to transform his country into a more progressive and economically advanced Muslim nation.

While various milestones had been marked since Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party won the 2018 general election that saw him taking on the role of Prime Minister, admittedly there are many more feats to be achieved, he said, and not least of all - a mutually beneficial economic relationship with India - in order to put Pakistan in an exalted place globally.

The premier spoke of his vision for Pakistan whilst giving a talk entitled “Vision for Regional Peace and Security” organised by the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) here during his two-day working visit to Malaysia recently.

The vision is not very different from the model set by the founding fathers of his country, who, in turn, had been inspired by Prophet Muhammad (SAW)’s founding of the first Muslim welfare state of Madinah.

“Madinah was the first Muslim welfare state where everyone came under the rule of law, and justice and compassion prevailed and where widows and orphans were taken care of,” Imran said, adding that this is what he is looking at for Pakistan.

“But we lost our way and went away from ideals …we need to go back on what was envisioned.”

Current frustrations the premier is facing internally include business cartels, political mafia pulling the country down, and society elites who put themselves above the law.

Some of the changes that Imran has put in place since taking office include health insurance for millions of families, two million shelter homes for people on the streets, cash allowances to alleviate poverty as well as scholarships and skills training for youths. More recently, the Pakistani government also announced several measures to rein in the country's rampant inflation.

On the external front, he has also led the expansion of the country’s trade links and bilateral agreements with several countries, all aimed at further advancement in the economies of Pakistan.

He said he had been inspired by China’s feat in raising seven million of its people out of poverty.

One unavoidable and unsurprisingly “hot” topic at the IAIS talk was Pakistan’s perennial love-hate relationship with India.

Answers were sought on his stand on India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the disputes revolving Kashmir, among other matters.

He was also asked whether he is hoping for a reconciliation with India, and he responded by saying that he is ready to work with India if it has a leader whose thinking he is compatible with.

He alluded the continued failure to reach an agreement with India in his current tenure as Prime Minister to India's current leadership, adding that Pakistan had been "getting rebuffed” many times.

 “Whenever there is a government in India which believes in the prosperity of the sub-continent and poverty alleviation, I can tell you Pakistan will be the first to offer the hand of friendship to India.

"The best way we can reduce poverty is if the two countries start a good relationship and start trading with each other. The more attention goes into this, the less we will spend on defence, and more we will spend on trade and there will be more prosperity in the subcontinent."

Perhaps it is as simple as that -- all that would be required to resolve the long-suffering relations between the two nations would be to have two compatible leaders helming the two countries at the same time to bring about peace and mutual economic benefits in the subcontinent. But surely, it is more complicated.

In any case, considering that India is already an economic powerhouse, surely it is Pakistan that would stand to benefit more from a peaceful front with India.

For a start, the breath-taking beauty of Pakistan’s less-travelled valleys and mountain resorts due to the regular conflicts in the region will get a lot more attention than they do currently. Tourism in the area has not flourished as much as it should have over the years, and it could be a huge exchange earner for the country.    

At the start of his talk, Imran expressed his admiration for Malaysia's Prime Minister Tun Dr.Mahathir Mohamad and his statesmanship, saying he had changed the destiny of many people.

When he went on to praise Malaysia’s multiracial and multi-religious society all coming together and living harmoniously, he could have very well given an insight into what he probably thought was missing in his own country or simply an expression of surprise on how easy it seemed for Malaysians from various racial, religious backgrounds to be working or co-existing in such harmony.

"It is the hallmark of a civilised society, to have such understanding and acceptance," he said. 

Imran Khan became the Prime Minister of Pakistan amid hopes from his people that he would bring changes to institutions, improve governance and assert the rule of law and build a progressive nation. For now, he still remains the best bet to bring about these changes. If the internal challenges can be overcome, the will could only become stronger in effecting changes outside the borders. Peacefully.



Edited by Sharifah Arfah Syed Mestaddin


TAGS: Imran Khan, Pakistan, Malaysia, society, friendship, India