WASHINGTON Addressing Pakistan’s US diaspora at a large community event in the Capital One Arena in Washington DC ahead of his much-anticipated first bilateral meeting with United States President Donald Trump, Pakistans Prime Minister Imran Khan said he is on a mission to create a New Pakistan for his people.
Prime Minister Khan, who is on a three-day official visit to the United States, was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, his Advisers on Finance and Commerce Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Abdul Razak Dawood, and Minister of State for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari to the event on Sunday.
The event was organised by Dr. Abdullah Riar, Secretary of the Office of International Chapters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s ruling PTI party. It was attended by about 20,000 people.
Prime Minister Khan told the gathering that, “Today what is happening in Pakistan, is the formation of a Naya (New) Pakistan, which would be based on a system of merit, where leaders and politicians would be made answerable for their actions.
Pakistan at this time, he said, was in dire need of a system based on meritocracy, where good leaders would, with the passage of time, replace bad ones in every walk of life, be it politics or business or sports.
“A society that doesn’t have merit doesn’t go forward,” he said, adding that America had a system based on meritocracy, through which good leaders (have) replaced bad ones.
The event went viral on social media with enthusiastic Pakistani Diaspora waving their hands and looking forward to the Pakistan Prime Ministers speech.
A tweet by Indian news agency ANI revealed that Sundays event was marred somewhat by a group of Baloch youth demanding the creation of an independent Balochistan who raised slogans against Pakistan.
Baloch living in the United States have been raising their voices from time-to-time to decry alleged atrocities, disappearance and human rights violations in Balochistan, the westernmost of Pakistan’s provinces, by the nation’s security forces.
Over the weekend, they launched a mobile billboard campaign in which they urged US President Donald Trump to help end “enforced disappearances” in Pakistan.
Local security personnel later removed the Baloch youth from the venue.
All eyes, however, will be on the White House meeting between Prime Minister Khan and President Trump on Monday. This is Prime Minister Khans first face-to-face talks with President Trump.
According to media reports, the meeting has been arranged primarily with the objective of mending bilateral relations, which have been left strained by the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.
Last week, both President Trump and the United States Congress firmly reiterated that security assistance to Pakistan would be held back until the country showed definite and irreversible progress in dealing with global terrorism emanating from its soil.
Pakistan is facing considerable economic pressure from financial institutions in the United States such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to meet all criteria in neutralising terrorism on its territory. Not doing so visibly could invite punitive financial measures and global blacklisting by October this year.
Since winning elections in Pakistan less than a year ago, Prime Minister Khan has called for “mutually beneficial” ties with America, while being an outspoken critic of US anti-terrorist tactics such as drone strikes.
Both he and President Trump are expected to discuss several issues, including counter-terrorism and defence, and trade and investment.