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Opposition’s dream of ‘minus one’ won’t come true: PM Pakistan Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday said opposition’s hopes of ‘minus one’ cannot succeed, declaring that no one can pull down his government unless it stands by its just stance and principles.

In his address to the National Assembly, the prime minister said he lives in his own house and bears all his domestic expenditures without fear of losing the office. “Opposition’s hopes of ‘minus one’ cannot succeed, and in case I do not remain in office, the other members of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf will not spare those elements tainted with corruption and money laundering cases,” he added.

The prime minister, while expressing his strong resolve to transform the country on the pattern of State of Madina, said all those who plundered and looted the public money will have to face the law no matter how much political pressures they exerted on the government. He said the authority vested with a person like him is a temporary thing but the adherence to lofty ideas and continuation of struggle are key to surmount all ordeals.

Coming down hard upon the opposition parties, the prime minister wondered why they had been opposing his government as some among them are claiming of being ‘liberals’ while the others are brandishing their religious clout. “They have only one agenda to cover up their corruption. They are out to pull down the government so that their misdeeds of corruption and graft should not surface. They have such fears lurking in their minds,” he said. “The ups and downs are common things in a long and hard struggle, but one should not surrender aims and ideas,” he stressed.

As regards Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, the prime minister said he got the party’s leadership without any struggle. About Khawaja Asif’s criticism, he said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader was serving in a foreign company at a time when he was serving the country as a foreign minister. The governments of Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, he added, eroded the morality of the country with their rampant and teeming trails of corruption.

The prime minister said the opposition parties are hoping to get any NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) like legislation to evade legal proceedings, but they will not get any as the two NROs granted by Musharraf in the past had caused irreparable losses to the country and destroyed the very fabric of society.

The prime minister said he had promised the nation about his vision of the State of Madina, in which the downtrodden and poor segments of society are lifted and taken care of. Deflating the opposition leaders’ criticism, he said he does not mind their words and cited a maxim ‘mind over matter’.

Imran Khan said Khawaja Asif as the foreign minister claimed during an interview with the Asia Society that his party (PML-N) was liberal but the PTI had religious affiliations. “Indeed, such leaders are liberally corrupt,” the prime minister maintained and regretted that for decades such-like leaders in order to save their skin had been repeatedly pronouncing during the US visits that they were the only liberals while the others were hardliners.

“Take out all my statements about the State of Madina, which had been consistent,” he said, adding for the first time he had told the United Nations General Assembly about the functions of the Riasat-e-Madina, which was created on the principles of equity, equality, justice, compassion, social security and lifting of the conditions of downtrodden.

The prime minister also referred to Nawaz Sharif’s claims, which he had made as prime minister in the National Assembly about his properties. All his documents later proved as fake in the Supreme Court, including the Qatari letter, he said, adding when the leader of the country lies about his money laundering and plundering of the public money what kind of moral values they cultivated and what message they sent abroad. The people like Khawja Asif were not democrats as they kept on defending such corrupt elements, who had been convicted by the Supreme Court, he maintained.

He said the prime minister, foreign minister and defense minister all had been working as employees abroad, which even did not happen in a banana republic. “They were not being paid with salaries but something else. How the country’s burden of loan ballooned from Rs 6 trillion to Rs 30 trillion in a decade during their governments,” he questioned.

Mentioning the impacts of lockdown, he said the provinces enjoyed autonomy after the adoption of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, but in case they had sought his approval for a complete lockdown like in Sindh province, he would not have surely acceded to it.

The prime minister also stressed upon introduction of reforms in the government-owned bleeding and loss-making entities and corporations, including the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) and Pakistan International Airlines. He also termed the accumulation of power sector circular debt a huge liability inherited from the past regimes. He said all the entities required drastic changes and reforms, and indicated that the government was ready for such changes.

Those elements would resist such steps, who had been taking advantage of the status quo and corruption, he said and cited the PIA, which had been once a pride of the nation but was now running into massive losses due to certain mafias. In 11 years, he said, its 10 chief executives had been changed while the incumbent was dragged into legislation, he said.

The prime minister termed the reforms imperative for the power sectors, Railways, PSM, and PIA. He said in the Pakistan Steel Mills, the government had alone paid Rs 3,400 billion for the salaries. The PPP government had made political inductions in the PIA and the Steel Mills and destroyed them.

In the first year of his government, he said, out of record Rs 4,000 billion total revenue collection, they had to pay Rs 2,000 billion as interest on loans. He said there were cartels in different sectors and cited the working of such coterie in the sugar business in which a set clique made windfall profits but shied from sharing their responsibilities towards the country and the countrymen by paying taxes.

Expressing his resolve, the prime minister said it was his government’s mission that all cartels would be made answerable before the law. The monopolies and cartels, he said, could not function without the patronizing of the past governments. Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif owned sugar mills to whiten their black money, he added. He said inquires would be held into all sectors and the government would trace all the elements, who had looted the country.

The prime minister said he has no doubt that India is behind an attack on the stock exchange building in Karachi. “There is no doubt that India is behind the attack,” the prime minister said, adding that India is trying to destabilize the country and create an atmosphere of uncertainty. He said there had been intelligence reports warning of attacks in Pakistan and he had informed his cabinet about the threat. He said the intelligence agencies have successfully pre-empted at least four major attacks in the country, two of which targeted Islamabad – but he said it is not possible to stop all such attacks.

The prime minister especially mentioned the valor and huge sacrifices of police personnel and security guards who thwarted the terrorist attack. He saluted the sacrifices of the ‘heroes of Pakistan’, including Sub-Inspector Shahid Shaheed, and stock exchange guards Ifitkhar, Khudayar, and Hassan Ali. The latter’s sister suffered from cardiac arrest and could not survive on hearing the news of the incident.

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