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Rekindling Hope

August 19, 2023 at 11:34 am | Economic Affairs

The Prime Minister’s introductory address underscored his intention to lead with a focus on development, a commitment that stood regardless of the duration of his tenure.

By Qamar Bashir

In a landmark moment for Pakistan, the newly-appointed Caretaker Prime Minister conducted his first Cabinet meeting on August 18, 2023, a telecast that left an indelible mark on the nation. His eloquent speech, clarity of thought, and unwavering commitment to a clear vision left an impression that resonated with citizens across the spectrum.

The Prime Minister’s introductory address underscored his intention to lead with a focus on development, a commitment that stood regardless of the duration of his tenure. His priorities were firmly set on organizing free, fair, and transparent elections, a testament to his dedication to democratic values.

The Prime Minister’s recognition and commendation of each cabinet member demonstrated his faith in their abilities to lead their respective portfolios.

What truly set this Cabinet meeting apart was the composition of the cabinet itself. Composed primarily of retired government officers, technocrats of specless reputation, and high-caliber professionals, the assembly presented a neutral and balanced representation. With only a few politicians or political affiliates, the emphasis was placed on ensuring an unbiased approach during their role as caretakers.

The Prime Minister’s recognition and commendation of each cabinet member demonstrated his faith in their abilities to lead their respective portfolios. This gesture laid the foundation for a collaborative and productive term, united under a common goal of national progress.

He conveyed that Pakistan’s inception was founded upon noble ideals and visionary aspirations. He underscored the collective responsibility of both the nation and individuals to safeguard these noble concepts and work diligently to translate the dream into tangible reality across all realms of national discourse.

With a focus on areas like information technology, agriculture, mineral development, and defense production, SIFC aims to attract foreign investment and drive economic growth and bring prosperity and development to the country.

He invoked the ideals of Allama Iqbal, emphasizing the importance of enlightened thought in guiding the government’s actions. Additionally, he stressed the significance of adhering to the principles of the nation’s founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, in fostering unity and progress.

A key focal point of the Prime Minister’s address was the affirmation of equality for all citizens. He underlined that every individual in Pakistan has the right to pursue a prosperous life, devoid of fear, harassment, intimidation, or vandalism. Notably, he reiterated that minorities in the country enjoy equal rights as citizens and pledged to protect and support them.

The disturbing incident of the vandalization of a church and desecration of the holy bible in Jaranwala drew strong condemnation from the Prime Minister. He assured the nation that the perpetrators would face exemplary punishment, underscoring the government’s unwavering stance against any act of harassment or intimidation targeting minorities.

The Caretaker Prime Minister, speaking with utmost clarity and directness, unequivocally condemned the May 9 incident. He made a firm commitment that this atrocious act will not be tolerated now or in the future, vowing to ensure that justice prevails for all those involved in this reprehensible crime.

Emphasizing an unwavering dedication to upholding the rule of law, he asserted that the legal process will unfold without any bias or favoritism, with the intent to prevent the recurrence of such events.

In light of the prevailing polarization in politics, religion, and society, he stressed the need to establish a clear demarcation between citizens’ rights and the enforcement of law and order. Drawing a striking analogy, he likened disrespect for the law to an AIDS virus that weakens the body’s immune system, leading to a tragic demise. He underscored the urgency of addressing the May 9 incident as a top priority to safeguard the nation from its detrimental consequences.

The inaugural interaction of the Caretaker Prime Minister with the general public, broadcasted live, could be likened to a compassionate doctor applying a soothing bandage to the nation’s grieving wounds.

Echoing a resolute stance, he proclaimed that Pakistan rejects any form of religious, ethnic, or political extremism due to their perilous implications for both the country and society. He advocated for a firm and unyielding approach in dealing with such issues.

He especially referred to the creation of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) and hailed this initiative as a realization of a dream, revealing that the country holds hidden wealth and untapped treasures.

With a focus on areas like information technology, agriculture, mineral development, and defense production, SIFC aims to attract foreign investment and drive economic growth and bring prosperity and development to the country.

Acknowledging the instrumental role played by the Army chief and his team, the Prime Minister credited them for the project’s swift implementation. Their efforts stood as a testament to the collaborative spirit between the government and military, further solidifying the nation’s commitment to progress.

The Caretaker Prime Minister firmly outlined his approach towards conserving financial and economic resources, directing cabinet ministers to redirect all available resources towards the betterment and prosperity of the nation.

He emphasized that the funds and provisions for this cabinet meeting, including tea and water, stem from the hard-earned money of taxpayers, who are the true proprietors and custodians of these resources.

Reiterating the focus on the public’s welfare, he pledged that all resources would be channeled into projects, programs, and initiatives aimed at providing essential civic amenities to the populace.

Undoubtedly, this address must have reignited the hope for a brighter future among the people of Pakistan and for the nation as a whole.

The Prime Minister highlighted the adoption of stringent financial controls, aiming to minimize government expenditures, and stressed the importance of optimizing economic resources for the betterment of the people, holding all members of the Cabinet accountable for the proper utilization of financial resources entrusted to them during their time in office. He assured that his cabinet is committed to a zero-waste policy during their tenure, ensuring that not even a single penny goes to waste.

Lastly, the Prime Minister unequivocally expressed his stance on the Kashmir issue. He asserted that resolving the Kashmir matter stands as a cornerstone of our foreign policy, and it is firmly believed that the key to its resolution lies in the just and transparent implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. These resolutions call for the conduct of a free and impartial plebiscite, allowing the Kashmiri people to exercise their inherent right to self-determination.

He emphasized that Pakistan maintains a steadfast commitment to its principled position, which dictates that any negotiations with India would not occur until India reverses its illegal and unilateral actions, namely the abrogation of articles 35A and 370 from its constitution.

The selection of a Caretaker Prime Minister hailing from my cherished province marks a positive stride within Pakistan’s politics and society. With this auspicious beginning, I am optimistic that the Prime Minister will soon fulfill the pledges he made on his first day, offering much-needed relief and solace to the embattled nation and its citizens.

The inaugural interaction of the Caretaker Prime Minister with the general public, broadcasted live, could be likened to a compassionate doctor applying a soothing bandage to the nation’s grieving wounds.

His address was replete with promises and the prescription of appropriate remedies for the various challenges that the nation is grappling with.

Undoubtedly, this address must have reignited the hope for a brighter future among the people of Pakistan and for the nation as a whole.

In conclusion, the Caretaker Prime Minister’s inaugural Cabinet meeting set an inspiring precedent for Pakistan’s trajectory. His eloquence, clarity of thought, and unwavering commitment to unity and progress showcased a leader who envisions a prosperous future for all citizens, irrespective of their background. This address marked a pivotal moment in the nation’s journey, emphasizing the power of collaboration, inclusivity, and a shared vision for a better Pakistan.

The writer is former Press Secretary to the President of Pakistan, former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France, and former MD, SRBC.

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