PTI will be more successful in rural Pakistan: Imran

PTI chief says rural areas crave for justice more than urban areas. PHOTO: PTI

BHALWAL / KARACHI: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan appears determined to respond to every criticism of his newly-popular party.

“They say that PTI is a party popular only in urban Pakistan. But you tell me, has there ever been this big a rally in Bhalwal?” Imran confidently asked thousands of party supporters who gathered in the small town in Sargodha on Sunday, who responded with a cheer of ‘no’.

“Do the rural people not want justice? They do. Injustice in Pakistan’s rural areas is worse than that in urban areas,” he said. “This PTI tsunami will be even more successful in rural areas because it is the harbinger of change, of Pakistan’s transformation.”

Speaking about how his party prioritises rural farmers as those who need justice the most, he said that because of a mafia, a poor farmer who produces sugarcane is paid 30 per cent less than he deserves for his labour and production. “Why does Indian Punjab produce double than Pakistani Punjab? They have the same weather and land conditions. Because the Indian government supports them by providing them with seeds, fertiliser and free electricity.”

This, he said, is his party’s vision for the farmers of Punjab. “We can earn an additional 300 billion rupees. And PTI will make all this available for farmers. Our primary concern will be the weak.”

Two-party system

The greater part of Imran’s speech was focused on criticising the two parties that have hogged civilian rule in Pakistan – the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

“The reason these parties cannot bring about any change is because they are part of the problem, not the solution,” Imran said. “Their time is up and the days of their rule are gone.”

Picking on PML-N, who Imran has categorically refused to ally with, he said that Punjab is their responsibility where they are governing for the fifth time but they have failed so miserably that they couldn’t even administer proper examinations for students. “Is Punjab doing any better than the rest of the provinces? No, it isn’t. Look at your tenure from 25 years ago and compare it with the current situation. You have destroyed Punjab.”

He said that he saw right through PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif’s stance on the government’s refusal to write to Swiss authorities under the Supreme Court’s National Reconciliation Ordinance order. “Mian sb, tell me one thing: how did you suddenly realise that the amount in Swiss banks is looted from the people of Pakistan? Three years, you were ruling together [with the PPP]. You were brothers. Was this not looted money then?” he questioned.

Imran then drove his point home by quoting former US President Abraham Lincoln’s famous lines: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”.

Addressing the prime minister, Imran said that he criticises PTI for not having an agenda.

“First of all, Mr prime minister, I would like to tell you that even if we don’t have an agenda right now, it will be better than yours. Even if we fail to deliver on our promises, we will end up doing a better job than you,” he said.

These parties, he said, say that Pakistan’s problems cannot be solved. “But I say they can be easily resolved. We are a well-endowed country. There are so many bright and competent Pakistanis who must be appointed at the right places. They should head Wapda, PIA and Pakistan Railways. All appointments must be made on merit.” Justice, he said, is when merit is given priority over all else.

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Mr Prime Minister, I am proud of you

After years of ambivalence towards him, I am now proud to call Yousaf Raza Gilani the prime minister of my country.

I admit that when he took oath, I was just as dismissive as anyone else. I thought he was another one of the pack — corrupt, incompetent and disloyal. And, on top of that, he seemed compliant.

And now, when the honourable Supreme Court has called him “dishonest”, I stand up and say that he is the prime minister and that he should not stand for this kind of treatment.

There is speculation that he will resign. Political uncertainty is such that between the time I take to write this and this comes into print, he may not be the prime minister. Who knows? And who cares?

After all, who cares that the world’s number one terrorist Osama bin Laden was in our midst for years, living a stone’s throw from the Pakistan Military Academy, where Army Chief General Kayani delivered a speech to graduating cadets weeks before Bin Laden was killed?Who cares that hundreds of terrorists who have killed and maimed thousands of Pakistanis are roaming free on the soil of this country? Who cares that another country, which calls itself our strategic partner in a long-drawn-out war that we’re losing, regularly kills our fellow countrymen, women and children in the tribal areas? And then some days, that same country kills our soldiers, too. Who cares?

Perhaps the honourable Chief Justice does. He who is correctly demanding that letters be written to the Swiss authorities and the money of the people is brought back to them. He who has held the prime minister responsible for failing to keep his oath but appears not to notice when the army and intelligence chiefs fail this country. He who takes suo motu notice over an individual carrying two bottles of alcohol in her travel bags but failed to do the same when Bin Laden was found and killed by foreign forces comfortably ensconced inside our territory, or when terrorists stormed the Pakistan Army’s headquarters in plain sight, or when American drones kill our own in our own backyard, or when hundreds go missing — and turn up dead — in Balochistan.

It took Prime Minister Gilani some time to find his voice. But now that he has, I stand by him. I do not know whether or not he will resign, but I know this that he does not need to until those whose job it is to secure Pakistan step down for failing to arrest the pervasive insecurity in this country; and until those whose job it is to be impartial conduct themselves in a manner that respects their oath.