Mr. Imran Khan Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, NI(M), HI(M) Chief of Army Staff
Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa have shared the title of ‘Man of the Year – 2019’ for their visionary leadership roles, leaving indelible marks on different aspects of national life and above all working together to prevent economic and physical fall of the country.
The award of the title, an annual feature of the daily Pakistan Observer, has been decided after a comprehensive round-the-year exercise carried out by its Editorial Board on the basis of assessment of performance, achievements and contribution to the cause of the country by personalities from different walks of life. The selection was based on surveys conducted by the Paper’s nation-wide network of bureaus and correspondents; interviews of leaders of public opinion and people representing different shades of opinion; interaction with diplomatic community and feedback from abroad through e-surveys. After indepth analysis of the entire material, the Editorial Board came to the unanimous conclusion that the duo of Imran-Bajwa impacted upon the national scene much more than anyone else during the year and therefore, deserve the coveted title.
The country faced daunting challenges both on internal and external fronts but harmonious relationship between the two leaders helped avert otherwise serious crises in the realm of security, economy and foreign relations. As is the general impression, the Government and the Army were on the same page on different issues of national importance and that is why the country remained unscathed during trying times.
For a political leader, it requires immense courage to take unconventional decisions that could dent his or her popularity. This is especially so after assumption of office by a leader as a result of electoral victory when there are high expectations on the part of masses in terms of delivery and fulfillment of the pledges made during electioneering. Credit goes to Prime Minister Imran Khan for taking most difficult decisions purely on merit and based on sole criteria of what suits best to the country in long terms. He embarked upon this course despite heavy criticism and inviting anger of the public opinion but his sincerity of purpose, commitment and consistency have produced the desirable results. Economy was the number one concern of Pakistan and its people as apprehensions were being expressed about the country going bankrupt. However, the situation has now changed and it is acknowledged by local experts as well as international donors that the country was out of wood economically. It was because of the prudent economic and financial policies that the confidence of bilateral and multilateral donors has been restored and all of them are happily entering into aggressive economic engagement with Pakistan. There are clear signs of economic recovery as current account deficit is narrowing down, imports shrinking, exports increasing, foreign exchange reserves rising and more and more foreign entrepreneurs investing in different sectors of Pakistan’s economy.
Though full impact is not yet visible but the Prime Minister has launched a number of schemes and programmes of far-reaching importance that have the potential to change the lot of the people. These include New Pakistan Housing Scheme, largest-ever need-based scholarship programme, Digital Pakistan Campaign, Clean and Green Pakistan, Ehass Programme, Health Cards and Panah Gah.
Prime Minister’s Citizen’s Portal is one of the those initiatives of the PTI Government that received wide appreciation from all segments of the society as it afforded them an opportunity to seek redressal of their grievances on fast track basis without knocking doors of the judiciary or incurring any expenditure.
It also goes to the credit of the Prime Minister for revitalizing Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia and UAE besides steady improvement in ties with the United States.
Prime Minister Imran Khan also made history by delivering an extemporaneous and persuasive but highly logical, coherent and persuasive speech at the UN General Assembly’s annual session in New York. In his fiery speech, the Prime Minister presented Pakistan’s point of view on a variety of issues especially Kashmir dispute so effectively that even his critics gave him full marks for his performance. Though he delivered an off the cough and riff speech but spoke so clearly and loudly on Kashmir that his voice jolted the conscience of the world community and raised morale of Kashmiri people who are bearing the brunt of Indian brutalities.
It is not a coincident that Imran Khan’s name appeared on TIME100, paying him tributes in these words “ (He) generates the broadest hope among young and old that he can turn Pakistan around, and help make South Asia an ocean of peace rather than a state of permanent conflict”.
Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, whose tenure has been extended because of his unmatched services to the cause of national defence and security, is considered a thorough professional. It was in the tenure of General Bajwa that operation Radd-ul-Fasad (elimination of discord) was launched in the aftermath of a fresh resurgence of terror attacks in the country. It was aimed at indiscriminately eliminating the “residual/latent threat of terrorism”, consolidating the gains made in other military operations, and further ensuring Pakistan’s border security – the objectives that stand almost accomplished during 2019 because of all-encompassing efforts of Pakistan Army under his leadership.
Border management has always been a major concern because of its linkages to the overall security and smuggling that is one of the major causes of economic bleeding. The nation would always be indebted to General Bajwa for steadfastly pursuing the project of border management despite uncalled for but severe reaction from Afghanistan. Fencing of the Western border would decrease chances of unauthorized crossings, help remove friction, tension and misunderstanding between otherwise brotherly countries and check the menace of smuggling effectively.
Our contributors, whose views helped decide the award of the title for the year, almost unanimously agreed that credit goes to General Bajwa for upholding Pakistan’s sovereignty and security interests and regional peace and stability. He changed the course of policy towards Afghanistan, putting entire emphasis on peaceful resolution of the longstanding conflict and took pains to put Pakistan’s relations with Iran, Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia on new footings. It is known to all that General Bajwa took the unconventional approach of a COAS paving grounds for much-needed bilateral financial assistance and help. He also made positive contribution to Pak-China relations, security of CPEC and creation of CPEC Authority to ensure continued forward movements on this front.
Other positive points emerging during surveys in favour of the two leaders included their sincere efforts to improve relations with India including opening of Kartarpur Corridor but firm resolve to defend the country’s core interests, their befitting response to India’s aggressive moves, mainstreaming of formerly FATA and their special interest in improving the lot of the youth.
We, therefore, take this opportunity to congratulate Prime Minister Imran Khan and COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa for their accomplishments and wish them success in their future endeavours and strategies to advance the cause of the country.