ISLAMABAD - A day after Pakistan’s general elections, a very familiar face appeared on TV screens claiming his victory in a way that won even more hearts than he had already won.

Attired in an off-white Shalwar-Qameez – the dress of the common folk – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan addressed the people through video link from his Bani Gala residence and shared with them his future plans.

“The state of Madinah is my ideal”, he said, adding that austerity, justice, accountability sans political victimisation, economic and governance overhaul, strengthening of institutions, public welfare and poverty alleviation will be his government’s top priorities.

On foreign policy, Khan said they will aim to improve ties with Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, further strengthen relations with China, try to sort out issues with India and forge a two-way relationship with the US.

Though official results were still pouring in, PTI was in a clear lead and Khan said they will form government at Centre, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as in Punjab – where it was neck and neck with rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

About the allegation of rigging by a number of rival parties, Imran Khan said his party was ready to probe these claims and open as many constituencies for vote recount as they would want.

Sitting behind a small, unimpressive wooden desk with his party and national flags on the sides, he spoke without reading from any notes - in a manner like he’s speaking to his family and friends. His words were plain and simple. The content of his speech was in perfect harmony with the hearts of his country fellows.

A hard won success had not puffed up the ego of an otherwise arrogant Imran, it humbled him rather. Even his avowed critics in media were forced to acknowledge the humility at display and the directness of his message. Many said they were seeing a politician become a statesman.

If someone wishes to see the personification of grace and class, and wants to know what the expression ‘simple yet elegant’ really means, one must see the PTI chairman at his first post-election public address.

“Thanks to God, we won,” said the 65-year-old cricketer-turned-politician. “We were successful and we were given a mandate,” said the man – who entered the political arena 22 years ago but remained in the wilderness until 2013 when his party saw partial success and was able to form government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Probably for the first time in his recent political history, Khan avoided criticising his main rival and the jailed PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and said that there would be no political victimisation in his party’s tenure.

He claimed to have “suffered the worst kind of personal attacks” that any political leader has had to sustain over the last three years, but said “this is all behind me now” as “my cause is above everything else”.

“I want a united Pakistan,” said the future prime minister of the country. He also said that the participation of people in the election was remarkable in the history of the country.

The PTI chief said that there would be supremacy of law in his government and indiscriminate action would be taken against all those who would violate the law.

Spelling out the priorities of his government, he said they would include reforming the tax system, helping farmers as well as business community in their uplift and increasing youth employment.

Imran said that all government policies should be centred on the ordinary citizens and vowed to save the taxpayers’ money going into wasted or being siphoned off.

“I want to clarify why I entered politics. Politics could not have given me anything. I wanted Pakistan to become the country that my leader Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had dreamed of.”

“I pray to Allah to give me the strength to fulfil the promises I have made to the nation,” he said, adding that his inspiration was the welfare state of Madinah that was established by the last Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

“I want to share the kind of Pakistan I envision ? the type of state that was established in Madinah, where widows and the poor were taken care of… Today our state is in a shambles. [But] all our policies aim to help the less fortunate prosper,” he said.

Probe into rigging

The PTI chief remarked that his party was ready to launch a probe into the rigging allegations of the opponents, though he maintained that Wednesday’s polls were “the fairest in Pakistan’s history”.

He said, “If you think there has been rigging, we will assist you in the investigation if you have any doubts. We will stand by you. I feel that this election has been the fairest in Pakistan’s history. If any party has any doubts, we will open up the results of those constituencies for investigation.”

Imran pointed out that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had installed the present election commission and caretaker setups were formed in consultation with the main political parties.

He commended the people of Balochistan who voted on election day, despite a suicide attack that left 31 people dead, and the armed forces who provided security for the polls.

Human development:

Khan said that human development would be the top priority of his government and all policies of his government would be meant for the uplift of the lower classes and the labourers.

He said, “Farmers are not paid for their hard work, 25 million children are out of school, our women continue to die in childbirth because we can’t give them basic healthcare, we can’t give the people clean drinking water.

He said the development of a country is not gauged how its elite live, it is rather measured by the living condition of its poor. “No country that has an island of rich amid a sea of poor can prosper,” he said.

He gave the example of China how it uplifted the lives of 700 million people in a period 30 years who were living below the poverty line.

Austerity, accountability and strong institutions

“I pledge to safeguard the nation’s taxes. We will decrease all of our expenses,” Imran promised.

He said, “Our institutions will be stronger, everyone will be held accountable. First I will be subjected to accountability, then my ministers and so on.

“Today we are behind [other countries] because there is a separate system for those in power and a separate one for ordinary citizens.”

Speaking about the role of institutions, he said, “We are facing governance and economic challenges. Our economy has never been so abysmal. It’s because institutions have not been doing their jobs.”

Talking about other internal problems, Imran said, “People are not investing in Pakistan. Another problem is unemployment, our youth does not have jobs.”

He promised that “we will introduce a system that has never been implemented before ? a kind of governance system that has not been seen before in this country.”

He said Pakistan was a country that has the highest number of people giving charity, but the lowest amount of tax revenue.

On austerity measures, the PM-apparent said, “Our government will decide what we will do with PM House. I would be ashamed to live in such a large house. That house will be converted into an educational institution or something of the sort.”

“The point is, we have to improve our condition, we have to formulate policies with the business community to increase wealth,” he said.

“We will improve tax culture,” he said, and stressed that people’s confidence in a governance system is a must for healthy tax collection. “People will pay taxes because they will see that their taxes are being spent on them.”

Imran also promised to improve the farmers’ lot and job creation. “We will help farmers, the business community and help the youth to find jobs and develop their skills. Our money will be spent on human development,” he added.

“I pledge to our people that I will introduce a system that is for the masses, all policies will be for the people and not for the elite,” he vowed.

“I will live humbly,” he promised. “So far we have seen that everyone who comes to power changes. That will not happen with me.”

Foreign policy

Imran Khan also spoke at length on his foreign policy preferences, declaring peace with neighbours to be his government’s foremost priority. “No other country needs peace like we do.”

About Pakistan’s all-weather friend China, he said, “We will strengthen our relations with China, they have given us a chance by investing in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.”

He further said “we also want to learn [form China] how to improve people’s lives, drag them out of poverty. Will also learn [from our northern neighbour] how to deal with corruption.”

Talking about Afghanistan, he said “they have suffered most in the ‘war on terror’, and before that in the Afghan jihad”. “Peace in Afghanistan means peace in Pakistan,” he said, adding that he envisions open borders with Afghanistan reminiscent to those within the European Union.

PTI chief said he wished relations with the US to be mutually beneficial, not one-sided. Moreover, he said his party wanted stronger ties with Iran.

He said Saudi Arabia has stood by Pakistan in its toughest times. “We would like to be a reconciliatory state and help them resolve their inner tensions.”

Turning his attention to India, he said he was very disappointed with how Indian media had, in the days leading up to the election, portrayed him as a ‘Bollywood villain’.

“I am a person who arguably knows the most people in India [than other Pakistanis] because of my days in cricket. We [Pakistan and India] can resolve the poverty crisis in South East Asia.”

Imran however pointed out that “the biggest problem is Kashmir, every international organisation has said that there are human rights violations taking place in Kashmir”.

“We want to improve our relations with India, if their leadership also wants it. This blame game that whatever goes wrong in Pakistan is because of India and vice versa brings us back to square one,” he said.

“This is not how we will grow, and it is detrimental to the sub-continent,” he said. “If they take one step towards us, we will take two, but we at least need a start.”

PTI meeting

Before the speech of Imran Khan, the senior PTI leadership held a consultative meeting to analyse the election results.

They decided that the PTI would invite the Balochistan Awami Party to make the next provincial government in Balochistan.

The party leadership also decided that the party would approach independent candidates in Punjab to form the next provincial government there as well since the PTI and PML-N were very close in the race in terms of the number of provincial assembly seats.

In this regard, PTI senior leader Jehangir Khan Tareen had been tasked to contact the newly-elected independent members of the Punjab Assembly.

Domestic Policy Outline

Says frugality to be hallmark of his govt
Won’t live in a palatial PM House
Accountability to start from “me and my ministers”
There will be justice but no victimisation
Will make people pay taxes by winning their trust through spending money on them
Marginalised to get economic opportunities
Will help youth find jobs and develop skills
Will make pro-farmers policies
Will bring investment to Pakistan

Foreign policy goals

Ready to talk with India but Kashmir is the central issue
If India takes one step, Pakistan will take two
Wants open borders with Afghanistan reminiscent to those within EU
Peace in Afghanistan means peace in Pakistan
Pledges warmer relations with brotherly Saudi Arabia and Iran
To forge even closer ties with China
Will learn from China how to alleviate poverty
No one-way relationship with US