GUJRAT: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan said on Wednesday that he wanted to transform Pakistan, the way China did, by steering nearly 700 million people out of poverty and making it a welfare state, like Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had wanted it to be.
He was speaking at a public gathering in the Maku village of Malakwal tehsil in Mandi Bahauddin district, where earlier former Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) stalwarts Nadeem Afzal Chan and his father Haji Muhammad Afzal Chan had announced their decision to join the PTI.
“I ask my followers and colleagues in the party to only be loyal to me if I adhere to the PTI’s manifesto after coming to power in 2018,” said a relatively calm and satisfied-looking Mr Khan.
“My pet dog is so loyal to me that even if I commit some heinous crime, his loyalty to me will not waver… but I ask Nadeem Chan to only stay loyal to me as long as I work according to the PTI’s manifesto,” he said. “If I deceive the people, loot the money of poor people and build palaces while stashing my money in foreign accounts, then Mr Chan can leave me.”
Mr Chan was the first politician who had been welcomed whole-heartedly by the PTI, even though usually leaders with similar political backgrounds carried with them the baggage of corruption, the PTI chief said.
“I visited Haji Afzal Chan some 15 years ago and learned a lot from him… today I am glad that the entire Chan family has finally joined the PTI… Waseem Afzal Chan was the first to join the party last year,” he said, adding that no country could achieve prosperity without supporting and investing in its poor and oppressed people.
The PTI chief said the country’s corrupt ruling elite had plundered billions of rupees from Pakistan, a country with 25 million out-of-school children, lack of proper health facilities and clean drinking water.
He said the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) had set up a welfare state in Medina, the Quaid-i-Azam had wanted Pakistan to be a welfare state, and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had pledged roti, kapra aur makaan (bread, cloth and house) to the masses. Mr Khan said time would soon come to implement what he had been talking about for the good of the country.
Addressing the gathering, former MNA Nadeem Chan said he had joined the PTI because he wanted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to be ousted from the politics of Punjab. He said Mr Khan was the only leader who could send Mr Sharif to jail and hold him accountable for plundering the country.
“I do not want to cling to an ideology that stops me from supporting the people of my area from the oppression of the ruling party… my supporters are victimised and fake police cases are registered against them, this is why I prefer my people over ideology,” Mr Chan said. He said the PTI had his unconditional support, because he did not need a ticket to contest and win elections from the NA-88 constituency of Bhalwal in Sargodha district.
“People ask why I left the PPP. I had asked Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari many times to come into the National Assembly and play the role of a strong opposition against the Sharifs, but to no avail,” he said.
The former PPP leader asked Mr Khan to award Bhalwal tehsil the status of a district after coming to power. He also advised him that after coming to power, the PTI chief must not ignore the PTI’s ideological workers who had stuck with the party for the last two decades.
PTI senior vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Jahangir Khan Tareen also addressed the gathering. Several former PPP stalwarts from Gujranwala, who recently joined the PTI, including Dr Firdous Aashiq Awan, Nazar Muhammad Gondal, Tariq Tarrar and Raja Riaz were also present on the stage.
Later, Mr Khan visited the residence of Pakistan Muslim League-Q MPA Aamer Sultan Cheema, where the latter announced his decision to join the PTI. Mr Cheema is related to PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Pervaiz Elahi.