Pakistani residents of the UAE have said they have high hopes for their country’s new prime minister but remain cautiously optimistic that Imran Khan will accomplish all that he has set out to do.
The former World Cup winning cricketer, 65, was announced the winner of Pakistan's general election on Friday despite a delayed vote count provoking accusations of rigging.
Dr Nighat Aftab, a Pakistani physician in Dubai, said that, regardless of the allegations, she hopes Mr Khan and his new government will change their nation’s future for the better and rid them of corruption.
“We have a lot of hopes for the new government. We hope that it will be a straightforward government that is free of thieves and that cares about the country,” she said.
“I also expect them to change the future of our poor people, provide them with the basic needs and protect the country’s assets.”
“We all look forward to having an honest leader and we hope that Imran Khan will be that honest leader,” said Dr Nighat.
During Mr Khan’s victory speech from his home in Bani Gala — a wealthy suburb of Pakistan — on Thursday, the former fast-bowler pledged to lift up the poor and improve relations with neighbouring countries.
“Time will prove if he is the right person or not. People claim to do so many things and we hope for the best.”
Despite her trepidation, Dr Nighat said any change would be positive and she is willing to give Mr Khan a chance.
“I’m very happy with the change because we have to give a chance to new people in order to make the change,” she said.
Farhad Ali, an assistant shop manager living in Dubai, said he and his family were feeling positive about the outcome and were looking forward to seeing tangible changes from the new government.
“Me and my family are looking forward to witnessing the good changes in the country. It is never too late,” he said.
“We all should celebrate this day as we hope to see a fast growth in all the sections, less debt, more focus on upgrading the country’s infrastructure and provide a good atmosphere for investors,” he said.
Pakistani residents are the second largest national group living in the UAE, second only to Indians, and constitute about 12.7 per cent of the country’s 9.54 million total population.
As was the case in 2013, Pakistani residents of the UAE were not allowed to vote as overseas residents so many chose to travel home to vote in person.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t vote online as they didn’t activate it and we also couldn’t travel back home to participate but our hearts and wishes are with our nation and the country,” Mr Farhad said.
Noor Ali, a Pakistani real estate agent, said the new prime minister and his government should prioritise providing new job opportunities for their people and work hard to eliminate poverty — which, as of 2017, was at almost 30 per cent, according to the country’s ministry of planning and reforms.
“It’s not an easy position as all the citizens count on them and they should be able to carry this huge responsibility and work in favour of the country,” said Mr Noor.
“We need to see more jobs, feel safer and reduce the numbers of poor and in-need families. We hope that we all share the main goal set and are now waiting to see an agenda that truly serves the country,” he said.