No talks with India until it reverses Aug 5 actions in Kashmir: Imran
Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks to digital media publishers and broadcasters in Islamabad.
At a meeting with digital media publishers and broadcasters in Islamabad, Khan said Pakistan would not hold any dialogue with India unless the latter reverses its unilateral actions of August 5, 2019 like revocation of Article 370 in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He said that Pakistan has improved its ties with all other countries except India.
Khan said any NRO to the opposition leaders for their corruption cases would ease out his life but it would be disastrous for the country. “Any NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) will make my life far easier but it will be disastrous for the country. During last ten years, they had given NROs to each other and consequently the country’s debt swelled fourfold. Then no one was questioning anyone. There was same NAB (National Accountability Bureau) which was disturbing none at that time,” the prime minister said.
During an hour-long interaction with the audience consisting of journalists, social activists, YouTubers and educationists with huge following on social media, Imran Khan recalled that the two NROs given by Pervez Musharraf had damaged the country to a great extent. They overburdened the country with debt to the extent that half of the revenue today was going to debt payment, leaving the government short of resources to spend on public welfare.
He said that any such exemption undermined the nation’s moral standards and even the media showed leniency towards their corruption of multimillion rupees, ignoring its real role of a watchdog. He said no one in any civilised country could ever think of its prime minister or foreign minister doing a job in a Dubai firm just to launder the money abroad.
The prime minister said the moral downfall preceded the economic downfall of any nation. Some third world nations with plenty of natural resources were poor just because their leaders were involved in corruption. He said it took long and required tough decisions to challenge the status quo, and exemplified China which jailed over 400 ministerial level people for their corruption and thus elevated the nation out of poverty.
Imran Khan viewed the least corrupt governments were the most prosperous. He said in order to change the society and mindset, the nation would have to consider the corruption as an evil, otherwise it could not be eliminated just through law enforcement.
Calling it a “classic case”, the prime minister referred to a question by a news anchor as to why Khawaja Asif was jailed for corruption of “just” Rs220 million. It reflected the downing of a nation’s morality, he added.
The prime minister said Pakistan was on its defining moment with the government having option either to surrender before the corrupt leaders or stand against them. He said that opposition leaders blackmailed the government during its struggle for economic uplift, anti-COVID operations and FATF legislation, linking their support to abolition of 34 of 38 clauses from NAB law.
He said Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari had joined hands with each other despite the fact that they had registered corruption cases against each other. Even JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman joined them as he was now out of government – first time since 1992, he added.
Calling social media a force with people yet to understand its real power, the prime minister said for the social media activists it was essential to know and apprise people of the government’s narrative. He said that nations died only for opting the wrong choice, which though could be a shortcut, but could compromise the morality.
To a question, Imran Khan said following the departure of US from the region after Afghan war, militant groups were left behind and they started militant sectarianism. He said such groups immensely damaged the country, particularly by targeting Shia and Hazara community. He said that militant groups had joined the ISS backed by the Modi regime in India with the sole objective of destabilising Pakistan. He said having understood their anti-Pakistan designs, Pakistan’s security agencies had pre-emptively foiled some of their plots.
Imran Khan said that previous governments ignored development of Balochistan. The powerful Baloch leaders had not even used the funds they had been receiving for public welfare. However, the incumbent government was the first to focus on socioeconomic uplift of the province that required huge funds. Highlighting the government’s anti-poverty initiatives including the Ehsaas Programme, he said the government was about to launch a very “ambitious” countrywide programme to ensure that no one sleeps with an empty stomach.
Besides, by end of the current year, every family in KP and Punjab would have universal health coverage, having a sense of protection in case of any serious illness of any of the family members.
This would also lead to expansion of private hospitals even in remote areas which were also being benefited, he added.
Similarly, the passage of foreclosure law would enable the cashless and salaried class to own their house through easy loans.
Urging people to follow Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) as their role model, he said any country adopting his (Holy Prophet’s) teachings and principles would prosper.
Responding to another question, the prime minister said Pakistan’s tax machinery had been corrupted in absence of leaders’ moral authority in the past to question the corrupt elements. He said out of 220 million population, only two million people paid taxes in Pakistan with 3,000 of them paying 70 percent of whole tax receipts.
Touching his government’s vision for environment conservation, he said they had brought electric car policy to address the challenge of pollution.
Many renowned firms were interested in investing in the initiative and the government was trying to convince them to manufacture car fully in Pakistan instead of just setting up assembly plants, he added.
Rubbishing aside the anti-government propaganda, Prime Minister Imran said in order to get the country out of record deficits, the government would have to squeeze its expenses which would ultimately impact the common man in form of unemployment, a phenomenon even in developed countries. He said the PTI government had paid back $20 billion during last two years and apprised the audience of 18% export growth, textile industry running at full capacity and boom of construction industry.
To a question about the opposition’s narrative of targeting the military leadership, he said it was the first time that someone was targeting the army during an elected civilian government as it was a norm during the martial law.
Mentioning the difficulties faced by the government in dealing with the opposition-inducted bureaucracy in Punjab and KP, the prime minister said they were now doing well and the government would have to change the faces to achieve the desired results.
“Change is a process. This doesn’t come through a switch. When there is change, the society has to struggle for it. It is the society which can stop corruption by defining its values,” he remarked.
The prime minister said Pakistan was on the course of change as the corrupt elements were facing jails and even two sitting ministers were also arrested for corruption. For the first time, an inquiry was conducted against the most powerful sugar mafia and cases were sent to FIA and FBR.
When asked about police reforms, he said it took long to rectify the highly politicized and corrupt institutions and instead it was easier to raise a new police force. Quoting former Punjab police chief, he said the PML-N had recruited 25,000 police personnel, including hardened criminals, in violation of employment rules.