Pakistani men sit near a poster of Pakistan's cricketer-turned politician and head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party Imran Khan, in Islamabad on July 30, 2018. Pakistan's World Cup cricket hero Imran Khan is set to become prime minister of the nuclear-armed nation of 207 million, with an economy inching toward crisis and perennial conflict on its borders. Running the country will take considerable statecraft from Khan's relatively inexperienced party. He brings charisma, international name recognition and a sizeable election victory, though not enough to form a majority government. Photo: AFP

Pakistan won independence from British rule on August 14, 1947. This Tuesday, the people of Pakistan will celebrate the 71st Independence Day. How will it be different from all the previous ones?

The British Empire ruled the South Asian subcontinent for almost a century. Before British colonization, the subcontinent was ruled by Muslims for almost 1,000 years. After the British took over, they were afraid of resistance or rebellion from Muslims, so they strictly suppressed them to avoid any uprising.

There was also a fear among Muslims that after the British left the subcontinent, Hindus might take over and Muslims would become slaves again. Then the Muslims united under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and demanded a separate state where they could live according to their religion independently. Finally, they succeeded in gaining an independent country for Muslim majority areas, known as Pakistan.

But unfortunately, not long after gaining independence, Pakistan faced various challenges and conspiracies, internally as well as externally. The country was ruled by feudal or military lords. Corruption, injustice and incompetence were witnessed widely, and as a result the common man was continually suppressed and deprived of social well-being.

During the last four decades, because of the “war on terror” in Afghanistan, in which Pakistan is a frontline state, it has suffered losses of around US$250 billion to its economy and 60,000 precious lives, and in return acquired a bad image.

The country has become a hub of international intelligence, conspiracies and severe degrees of hybrid war. A sick economy, nepotism, injustice, intolerance, extremism, ethnic divides, religious narrow-mindedness, and desperation are all visible.

Last month’s general election brought hope. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won the election, and is in the process of forming a new government.

PTI won the election after a hard struggle of 22 years. The party’s chairman, Imran Khan, formed PTI on April 25, 1996, in Lahore. He was educated in the UK and married a British woman, and lived in that country for a long time. He enjoyed fame and a comfortable life there with his family. But he decided to return to Pakistan and work for the people of his homeland. He was against corruption, nepotism and social injustice. He contested several elections in Pakistan during the last 22 years, and finally his efforts brought fruit and succeeded in the July 25 elections.

Khan won this election on his slogan “Naya Pakistan,” meaning New Pakistan, where no corruption, no nepotism, no injustice occurs. The people owned his words and promises on “Naya Pakistan” and voted for his party. Now they may be expecting a lot from him and wanting the realization of “Naya Pakistan” as promised by him.

He seems to be an honest, sincere and visionary leader. He will work hard to deliver what he promised. Definitely, he will not tolerate corruption, nepotism or injustice during his tenure. He will focus on an economic takeoff and the international image of Pakistan.

His strength is in the youth of Pakistan, who have trusted him, and 70% of the population is under the age of 40. Youth is the real potential and needs to be exploited appropriately. Young people need to be educated, trained, and guided well, before being utilized in the rebuilding of the nation.

Rebuilding in stages

The most crucial stage is formation of the new government. Khan has to be very vigilant in choosing his ministers and cabinet members. He must assign ministries to relevant elected members of the National Assembly (MNAs) with proper backgrounds and qualifications. If he succeeds in building his right team, half of his work will be completed.

Then will come the tasks of managing his team, keeping them charged, motivating them for proactive approaches, and keeping close eyes on them – monitoring. He still has to lead them, guide them, and provide them with solutions to any issues that arise.

But all this be only be part of his remaining tasks. He is surrounded by many professionals, experts and technocrats, and above all he believes in collective wisdom. I am sure he will consult on all important issues with the stakeholders and get feedback from all quarters before making any important decisions. As the prime minister of Pakistan, he will make decisions in the best interest of the nation.

I think Imran Khan is capable and has a strong will, and above all the people of Pakistan support him. He will be able to succeed in turning Pakistan into an economically strong, united, moderate and tolerant,  well-civilized nation. Pakistan may join the club of leading nations of the world under his leadership. A totally transformed New Pakistan, as per his slogan “Naya Pakistan.” This is a very special gift for the nation on the 71st Independence Day.

Zamir Awan

Professor Zamir Ahmed Awan is a sinologist at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Chinese Studies Center of Excellence, Islamabad, Pakistan. Posted to the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing as science counselor (technical affairs) from 2010-16, he was responsible for promoting cooperation between Pakistan and China in science, technology, and higher education.

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