Opposition to be held responsible if FATF-blacklisting leads to economic collapse: PM

Prime Minister Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD, Aug 27 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday warned that the Opposition would be held responsible if the country got blacklisted on Financial Action Task Force (FATF) leading to economic collapse.

“We are going to convene a joint session of parliament next week, and if the Opposition once again joins hands to save corrupt within its ranks, it would be an open enmity to the country,” the prime minister said in an interview with senior journalist Arshad Sharif of ARY News television.

The prime minister said the consequences of FATF blacklisting could be horrific in the shape of end to international bank dealing and devaluation of currency, resulting in price hike of commodities including electricity.

He said the Opposition was blackmailing the government on the FATF issue, however he categorically stated that he would not give any concession to the corrupt as NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance).

“India wants to put us in FATF blacklist, and defeating of legislation on it would be supporting their cause in fact,” he said, adding that Opposition had one-point agenda which was entirely against the national interest.

Imran Khan said his government inherited a situation where Pakistan was put in FATF grey-list during the tenure of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), adding that black-listing could prove a “disaster” for the country.

The prime minister admitted that allowing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to leave the country was a mistake on part of the government, though it was made in good faith.
“We sent him in good faith, but now we regret.

It is embarrassing to learn that Nawaz Sharif, who was given a facility on medial grounds, has started politics abroad,” he said.

He said had there been no medical opinions, which were probably based on fake health reports, he would not had allowed Nawaz Sharif to leave.

Imran Khan said the government would make every effort for return of Nawaz Sharif, saying there were no two laws in the country, for the rich and the poor.

To a question if any ruler had asked for release of Nawaz Sharif, he said it was not a pressure, but a polite mention about the issue.

He said Nawaz Sharif did not give a single document of the foreign property worth billions abroad.

“When they did my political victimization asking about my London flat, I submitted 60 documents. However, they only presented three fraud documents including Calibri (font) and Qatari letter,” he said.

He rejected the criticism by Opposition on National Accountability Bureau, which he said had its chairman selected by PMLN and PPP.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan had a good relationship with all countries at the moment, including the United States, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and several others.

On relations with international leaders on personal level, he said interest of the country always come ahead of any such friendship.

He mentioned that he had all the support of Pakistan Army on his foreign policy including pursuing dialogue as solution to conflicts, release of Indian captured pilot or Kartarpur.

He said a pro-India lobby was always involved in a planned campaign of maligning Pakistan Army, which had immense contributions for the country.

He mentioned that detachments of army were working to help people of Karachi as it faced flooding by heavy rainfall and added that he was in touch with Chairman National Disaster Management Authority in that regard.

The prime minister said India had made a strategic blunder in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and vowed that Pakistan would forcefully raise the issue in the upcoming session of United Nations General Assembly in New York in September.

Speaking about two years achievement of his government, he said after passing difficult phases, Pakistan was heading in the right direction.

He said the government inherited the biggest trade gap in the country’s history and the first year passed in recovering from chances of default.

He said no other country than Pakistan made a quick progress, after the coronavirus pandemic, which affected global economies.

He mentioned that Pakistan’s exports were greater than India and Bangladesh following the situation.

Imran Khan said the revenue in the month of July was above expectations with increase witnessed in sales of cement, cars and motorcycles.

“It is a time for nation to rise from ashes as a continuous six months of stability could regain the country its strength,” he said.

On 18th Amendment of the Constitution, the prime minister said it had “fractured” the system of the country with lack of coordination among the federal and provinces.

He said the Amendment, though having a good concept of power devolution, was done in haste and was proving an obstacle for smooth carrying out of businesses.

He said devolution of power, which was transferred from the federation to provinces, should further have been trickled down to districts, towns and city levels.

He said Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would soon be having a new and modern administrative system to run administration as it was the only solution to address the civic problems of big cities such as Karachi and Lahore.

Imran Khan mentioned that to address the lack of coordination in tourism sector, he had constituted a national coordination committee to devise a central feasibility to be followed by provinces.

He said without a coordinated strategy, it was difficult to encourage the foreign investors to come to Pakistan.

He said similarly, the construction sector would be given a boost with coordination at national level.

The prime minister mentioned the incentives recently announced for the construction sector, besides launch of two mega cities to be set up along River Ravi in Lahore and at a Karachi island.

To a question on recent agreement with Independent Power Providers (IPPs), the prime minister said the main aim was to bring down the electricity generation cost to reduce burden on consumers.

He revealed that in September, a good plan would be announced for power sector.
However, he said, the government could not make it public because other countries, which had done a lot for Pakistan, were involved.

Asked why the issue of petroleum prices could not be handled by the government in recent months, he said oil companies, OGRA and ministries were involved in it, to which a commission had been made for inquiry.

On recovery mechanism of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC), he said on receiving the fine print, the government was evaluating that how much money would it get in this case and through out of court settlement.

He said delays were experienced by bureaucracy on reluctance to sign due to fear of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), and added that it’s interference in business needed to be reformed.

On Karkey dispute, he said Turkish President Recep Erdogan helped Pakistan escape the huge penalty of $1.2 billion.

In Reko Diq case, he said a damage of $6 billion was incurred on Pakistan, to which the government was making efforts for relief.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said his government throughout faced criticism by media, however stressed that there must be a forum to evaluate fake news.

He said his team had competent members including Abdul Razak Dawood, Dr Shireen Mazari, Murad Saeed and Dr Sania Nishtar who put immense hard work in their domains.
Asked to comment on presidential form of government, the prime minister said the reason of its success could be its running with the support experts of the fields.

As a Chief Executive of the country, Khan said he also favored appointment of specialists, because mere ministers might not have complete grasp on the subject.

To a question on any possible change in his cabinet, he said it could be limited to a single position if done and not a major reshuffle, as he “wanted stability to pursue with work”.

When asked how he spent his leisure time after becoming the prime minister, Imran Khan said he neither took any leave nor underwent any private trips unlike former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

He mentioned that home was a place for him to have peace, where he said his wife shared her balanced views during their occasional discussions on various topics.

He mentioned that his hectic office routine had affected his exercise routine which he continued from his sportsmanship era.

He said his latest book read was about rise and fall of Islamic civilization and the current one was on Sufism.

The prime minister said he was inspired by the concept of spiritual democracy by Allama Iqbal, which would also be included in the academic syllabus.

He expressed belief that social welfare could lead to development of a nation.
Imran Khan said he always stood strong against challenges because “without these, the progression in life comes to an end.”