New York: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan turned introspective, stressing his country’s problems in his speech to the Pakistani diaspora here, with no references to contemporary India.
Khan, who is in Washington in a bid to reset relations with the US, stayed away from international issues except for a brief mention of Afghanistan while speaking to his supporters on Sunday at a sports arena.
Mention of India was notably absent as that could backfire in his other dealings or coverage in the US by bringing up issues like terrorism to the fore.
Khan dissected some of Pakistan’s ills blaming a lack of meritocracy, accountability of leaders and corruption in a speech that sounded more like a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) campaign.
But a glaring omission was the role of terrorism in disrupting the country’s development.
As he was starting to speak about his meeting with US President Donald Trump scheduled on Monday and Afghanistan towards the end of his speech, people calling for independence of Balochistan stood up and shouted slogans.
His speech was cut out and songs in praise of Pakistan and Khan came over the public address system in a bid to drown out the protesters.
Khan said that when meeting Trump, he would emphasise that a military solution was not possible in Afghanistan and he had maintained that always.
The diaspora meeting was in the style of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with people of Indian descent.
But Khan’s speech was completely partisan with digs at the opposition aimed personally at Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F leader Fazalur Rahman, Pakistan Peoples Party head Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and Pakistan Muslim League-N leaders, the Sharifs – Nawaz, Asif and Maryam.
He said that he was ending airconditioning and other privileges for Nawaz Sharif in prison.
Khan said that his country had lagged behind the world in development because of cronyism and corruption. Except for Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who were charismatic, there was a leadership vacuum because leaders were foisted on either because of family ties or because of the military in the case of Nawaz Sharif, he said.
And there was no accountability for the leaders, he said, without mentioning the role of the military that has ruled Pakistan for most of its life with an iron fist.
His only mentions of India or Hindustan were from the eras of Muslim rule to make his point about meritocracy and the curse of nepotism. He asserted that Hindustan was a “superpower” with the biggest economy under the Mughals until the successors of Aurangzeb, who came to power through family ties, ruined it through their incompetence.
He also mentioned the Slave Dynasty of Qutab-ud-din Aibak as an example of meritocracy.
Appealing to the cricket mania, he said that Pakistan had the best players but they were being held back and gave an assurance that by insisting on meritocracy, he would make his country’s team the champions again.