Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that Pakistan must always aim to be self reliant and not be afraid to have lofty dreams.
“People talk about projecting a soft image for Pakistan. What does a soft image even mean? […] Will the world begin to think very highly of us then?” said the premier.
He said that Pakistan must not fall for this misconception. “This is having an inferiority complex. When a country loses self-confidence, it begins to think of how to please others,” the prime minister said.
He was addressing a gathering in Islamabad held to showcase a docu-drama “Paani ke pankh” that highlights the importance of Pakistan harnessing its hydropower capabilities.
“We must never think of doing something that the West wants. Like when Musharraf spoke of ‘enlightened moderation’. […] No one knew what it was. People thought the more they look like people from the West, the more they will seem moderate,” PM Imran Khan said, adding that a nation only does such things when it lacks confidence.
He said that Pakistan need only project one image — that it is an independent nation, one that is standing on its own feet, has confidence, and believes in its future and does not rely on any other nation. “It is only then that the world respects such a nation.”
PM Imran Khan said it was a major mistake to take part in “someone else’s war”, referring to Pakistan supporting the US post 9/11 in the fight against terrorism.
“We fell under pressure and took part in their war […] First we took part in the [Soviet-Afghan War] in the 80s and glorified the mujahideen […] And then after 9/11, we labelled them terrorists and at their bidding began fighting them,” said the premier, adding that of course Pakistan then “suffered”.
“So what lesson have we learnt from the past? We have to strengthen the nation and make it stand on its own feet. We have to ready the nation to pay taxes, without which we won’t be able to educate our citizens, take care of their health or improve the infrastructure,” the prime minister continued.
He said it is the nation that has to pay taxes “so we don’t beg for grants elsewhere”. “As our mindset begins to change, believe me I say this as a man who has seen the world, Pakistan’s tremendous potential will begin to unlock.”
The prime minister said the country is blessed with countless bounties, saying that “we undersell ourselves and lack belief”.
“The day we have the confidence we can compete against any other country, the nation will reach great heights.”
PM Imran Khan also spoke of previous governments, saying that they “only thought of their own election campaigns instead of planning ahead” for resources.
“They thought of their elections instead of making dams.”
The prime minister said it is owing to the past government’s mismanagement that electricity rates are high. The past deals were such that whether or not there is power utilisation, payments had to be made, he said.
He characterised the 2008-2018 period as the “decade of darkness”.
The prime minister said the secret to China’s progress is long-term planning.
PM Imran Khan said that in Pakistan, after 50 years two new dams are being built, whereas this should have been an activity that took place “from time to time”.
“Had we built dams timely, we would have a 70,000 MW electricity generation capacity,” he said.
Criticising the Opposition for saying that the incumbent government had gathered more debt for Pakistan, he reminded them that when PTI came into power, the country had a debt of Rs25,000 billion. Of the Rs11,000 settled, Rs6,000 went in the way of interest payments, he said.
He went on to say that due to a rupee depreciation, the debt rose by Rs3,000bn.
PM Imran added that of a Rs2,000bn goal in tax collection, there was a deficit of Rs800 bn because of the coronavirus pandemic.