ISLAMABAD, Jan 1 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday while reiterating his government’s resolve to uplift the people’s living standard and improve justice system, hoped that the new year 2021 would bring about good time for Pakistan.
The prime minister, in his first interview of the new year with a private television channel (Dunya News), said all the reshuffles in federal and provincial cabinets, and bureaucracy would become irrelevant before a question whether Imran Khan had improved the lives of people after five years.
“You get a mandate for five years. I will not commit to not change my team. I am the captain and always kept changing the team. I have to win the match. I have to make Pakistan win.”
Imran Khan expressed the hope that after five years, the common man would acknowledge uplift in his living standard and justice system, and feel that he was out of poverty.
Calling him a prime minister of the common man, not the elite class, he said the first two years were very tough.
“These were the most difficult years of my life. I have very good feelings. My instinct is saying that 2021 will bring about a very good time for Pakistan,” the prime minister remarked.
Reaffirming his stance of no NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) to the opposition for their corruption cases, the prime minister said it would be an act of treason or opportunism if he did so.
To a question, he assured of action against any of his ministers found involved in corruption.
“I will take action. This is my ideology for 24 years. The corruption by an SHO (station house officer) or patwari (revenue officer) disturbs the people only, but that by a prime minister or ministers destroy the country,” he remarked.
He announced that the government would approach the Chief Justice of Pakistan for setting up a special court to hear the corruption cases of ministers on day-to-day basis, if any, and decide their fate within minimum possible time.
To a question, he said he had never called himself ill-prepared to run the government, rather he proposed at least six weeks for prior briefings by the state machinery on government affairs to a newly elected government, on the pattern of the United States.
He said during first two years, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had paid back $20 billion debt, spending half of its receipts and leaving behind a limited money for public welfare.
Recounting the government’s achievements on economic front, the prime minister mentioned the surplus current account, increased exports, improved stock market and textile industry running at full capacity – all due to the pro-business policies.
To a question, Imran Khan explained that he formed a coalition with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) after they had parted ways from “terrorist” Altaf Hussain.
However, he had already announced to never form any coalition with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) or the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as they would impede him in his mission of accountability and purging the country of corruption, he added.
He said the coalition parties were pursuing the government’s policies and PTI’s manifesto, and rubbished the notions of any differences with the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), MQM or Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA).
Regarding the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) anti-government campaign, he said since the start of PTI government, the opposition had been giving repeated deadlines for its ouster but they always failed.
Imran Khan said even PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif returned to Pakistan misperceiving that the government would collapse due to the COVID-19 – for hunger related deaths in case of lockdown or caused by the pandemic if it did not announce closure.
To a question, he said the idea of making compromises to reach the ultimate goal was never bad until one compromised the ideology.
“I will never make compromise on an NRO. The U-turn is when you give up your goal,” he remarked.
Regarding Jahangir Tareen, the prime minister said after disqualification, he just held an advisory role for his expertise in modern agriculture, but he was removed from that too after the inquiry in sugar crisis case. Further investigation in the sugar case was with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
For the first time an in-depth investigation was held without any discrimination, he added.
Imran Khan said the opposition leaders must be punished for looting public money while holding public offices.
He said while sitting on the top slot, it was easy for him to become a billionaire but then he would lose his moral authority to check the corruption by the ministers or bureaucrats.
Ruling out the notions of government using any influence over NAB, the prime minister said he would not have awaited too much to imprison the opposition leaders if he had any such powers.
He had asked the FIA to probe Khawaja Asif’s case as to how a defence minister could do a job in a Dubai firm without being there, he added.
To a question, he clarified that 95 percent cases against the opposition leaders were not filed by the PTI government, rather by themselves against each other in their respective tenures of government.
Referring to the arrest of PTI ministers Aleem Khan and Sibtain Khan, the prime minister said,”We are genuine democratic government, which believes in independent institutions. This is the government which neither interferes in the matters of NAB or courts, nor attacked the Supreme Court.”
He said for the sake of an NRO, the opposition had been blackmailing the government during its economic struggle, FATF (Financial Action Task Force) related legislation and COVID-19.
“They should do whatsoever they can, be it a jalsa (public gathering) or sit-ins, I will not give them the NRO,” he reiterated.
Imran Khan said the opposition leadership were exposed through their wrong move of giving the proposal in writing to the government seeking abolition of 34 out of 38 clauses of the NAB law.
The prime minister said the civil-military relations were cordial as the army knew about his honesty and dedication to make Pakistan an independent nation.
Referring to the revelations by EU-based Disinfo Lab, he said the fake sites backed by India were targeting him as well as the Pakistan Army, and the same was being done by the PDM leaders.
“What they (opposition) want the army to do? Is the army a separate entity?” he questioned.
To a query, the prime minister said he had asked the army chief to speak up on the Gilgit-Baltistan issue as India had been trying to provoke nationalists there to instigate a separation move. The army chief had to make the people understand that it was a national security issue, he added.
Moreover, it had also been the GB people’s demand for provincial status, he remarked.
To a question, Imran Khan said he was ready to talk to the opposition, but every time they diverted the conversation to the NRO.
He was confident that the PDM leaders would never be able to take the people to streets as the latter knew that their movement was to protect the looted public money, not for public interest.
About the JUI-F’s agitation following the NAB inquiry against its chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the prime minister said such people considered the politicians and powerful people above law.
On the contrary, he had defended himself through documentary evidences when the opposition filed cases against him, both in the court as well as the Election Commission, he added.
He said the opposition leaders were left with no choice but either to return the looted money or face jail. Many of the country’s economic issues could be addressed if they returned the money they had looted during the last 30 years, he remarked.
The prime minister said a day after the lukewarm public response to PDM’s call for Lahore public gathering, the stock market surged. The business community, he said, wanted his government to stay for it being the first to promote industrialization for wealth and jobs creation.
He said the construction industry was on boom with record cement sale, besides record remittances coming in owing to incentives announced by the State Bank.
Touching his government’s long term projects, the prime minister mentioned the construction of two major dams after 50 years, and development of two new cities of Ravi City in Lahore and Bundal Island in Karachi to bring in foreign exchange and create employment.
“We are on right course. Now I am trying to think of long term…All my efforts are focused at steering people out of poverty,” he said.
He said for the new year, the government’s major goals were to ensure that no one left hungry and provide health insurance cover to whole of population in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and GB.
Moreover, the government was about to bring olive revolution through massive plantation to meet the country’s needs as well as increase exports, he added.