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AKIPRESS.COM - Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan called on Sunday for the rich to start paying taxes and said the country will begin an austerity drive to reduce debt, a campaign he will kick-start by selling his office’s fleet of bullet-proof cars, Reuters reported.
In his first address to the nation as premier, Khan set out his vision for a “New Pakistan” and spoke at length about the need to reshape the country by introducing an Islamic welfare system, reducing poverty and slashing high debt levels.
“We have formed a bad habit of living on loans and aid from other countries,” said Khan, speaking under a portrait of his hero and Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah
“No country can prosper like this. A country must stand on its own feet.”
Khan, 65, a former cricket legend, was sworn in as prime minister on Saturday after his party swept to power in last month’s election.
A firebrand populist, Khan’s appeal has soared in recent years on the back of his anti-corruption drive, which has resonated with young voters and the expanding middle class in the mainly-Muslim nation of 208 million people.
But Khan has inherited a host of problems at home and abroad, including a brewing currency crisis and fraying relations with Pakistan’s historic ally, the United States.
Khan did not shed any light on policy plans to deal with the currency woes that analysts expect will force Pakistan to seek another International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout. Instead, Khan focused on debt and said former central bank governor Ishrat Husain would lead a task-force to drive austerity.
Criticizing what he called the colonial-era mindset and lavish lifestyles of Pakistan’s ruling elite, Khan announced he would live in a small three-bedroom house instead of the palatial prime minister’s residence.