Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that although he had “nothing to gain from politics”, he had persevered in his political struggle for 23 years to fulfil his responsibility towards the Pakistani people.
He is addressing a ceremony held to celebrate the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) 23rd Foundation Day — originally marked last week — at the Jinnah Convention Centre in Islamabad.
A large number of party supporters, ministers, special assistants to the prime minister and party leaders are attending the event.
“It’s been 23 years since PTI was founded and we need to understand what this struggle was about. Struggle is never a straight journey, there are highs and lows. People get disheartened and leave you, [and] some come back.
“I had nothing to gain from politics. I had everything a person can have — wealth, fame, respect. I could have spent my life just by commenting on cricket,” he told the audience.
But he said “a man of faith knows he has to answer to the God. The more you receive [from God], the more responsibility you have [towards society].”
“This country was progressing so quickly when I was growing up. Our leaders were respected by the world. But then this respect began to fade because those in power, instead of thinking about the country, started caring about their own interest.
“When a man steals, he harms one man. When a leader steals, he harms the entire country,” the prime minister stressed.
Citing the success stories of Malaysia and Singapore, he emphasised the importance of implementing the principles of the state of Madina in Pakistan.
“The governance structure of Madina is the system of a modern state. That became the foundation due to which Muslims ruled for the next 1,000 years.
“Pakistan was the only country that was built in the name of Islam and the purpose was to establish a welfare state. But we strayed from that vision.”
‘Rotten political system’
The PTI was formed by cricketer-turned-politician Imran in Lahore on April 25, 1996.
The premier had directed the PTI chief organiser to prepare a plan for countrywide celebrations after the party decided to commemorate its 23rd Foundation Day — the first after coming to power — with “full fervour and passion”.
A video compilation recapping the prime minister’s political career was shown at the start of today’s ceremony. It was followed by a performance by Punjabi folk legend Attaullah Esakhelvi, who has lent his vocals to a PTI anthem.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in his address at the event congratulated the prime minister and the party’s founding members and workers who he said “took Imran Khan’s message to every village and remote area”.
Taking a jibe at the PTI’s political rivals, he said: “Opposition parties ask ‘is this the naya Pakistan?’ I ask them that you ruined Pakistan for 40 years and you expect Imran Khan to fix it in eight months?”
Qureshi said the PTI voter is “very intelligent”. “He knows the situation you inherited when you came to power. He knows about the ruined economy you inherited,” he added while addressing the premier.
He asked PTI workers to prepare themselves for local bodies elections, recalling that the Punjab Assembly had recently passed a local bodies bill.
PTI’s chief organiser Saifullah Khan Nyazee in his remarks recalled Prime Minister Imran’s political struggle, commending him for standing up against the “rotten political system”.