At 5pm on the 26th of July, almost 24 hours after polling had stopped, Imran Khan delivered his victory speech; and what can also be termed his inaugural address to the public as the Prime Minister-elect. With all the trappings of his expected office arrayed behind him, Imran Khan launched into an encouraging and measured address. His open and gracious demeanor impressed many, who were used to, and expecting, his usual combative style.
While this first glimpse of Imran Khan at the helm has been widely lauded, the content of his thirty minute speech is far more important. An open demeanor is certainly appreciated, but his policies will ultimately define his term. We must also remember, Imran Khan’s speech was not made in his capacity as a candidate anymore, where rhetoric and sweeping statements are readily accepted. His inaugural address, and the promises and claims made in it, are yardsticks that he has laid out for himself and his government. We must treat them as such and measure his government accordingly.
In this regard his extempore speech - borrowed heavily from the ones he usually delivers at rallies – might have made things a little difficult; he could have promised too much, too soon. His claims on insuring absolute and complete transparency from the top down is central to his party’s manifesto, and appreciably repeated again during the speech, but complete accountability is no easy task. Similarly the pledge to not deal in any political victimisation, and to investigate all claims of rigging openly, are very good positions to take. However, practicing such lofty ideals diligently may be a different matter altogether.
In that same vein of campaign speeches, Imran Khan emphasised many important fields where Pakistan was suffering problems, and did an admirable job identifying them. Safeguarding and increasing tax revenue, decreasing government spending, strengthening institutions, increasing youth employment and helping small farmers are all noble goals, but there needs to be some indication on how these problems will be solved.
As Prime Minister, Imran Khan will not only have to identify the right problems, he will need to formulate actual policy proposals based on ground realities to eradicate them. With the election over, it is time Imran Khan starts supplying the nation with solutions instead of a litany of problems. Will his solemn pledge to “fix it” causes one to be hopeful, the devil, unfortunately, is in the details.