HAFIZABAD, Nov 7 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan, while recounting his government’s pro-poor initiatives like health insurance card, shelter homes and housing loans, said on Saturday the journey to develop Pakistan as a welfare state had started.

Addressing a public gathering here after breaking ground of the Hafizabad University, the prime minister resolved that the government would uplift all the areas facing neglect in the past.

Earlier, accompanied by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Member of the National Assembly Shaukat Bhatti and other party leaders, the prime minister unveiled the plaque for the construction of the university costing Rs 6 billion.

Imran Khan announced that the Punjab government had decided to extend health insurance facility to 50 percent of the provincial population by the current year end and whole of the province by next year.

The Sehat Insaf Card facility, he said, would give a confidence to the low-income groups for having an insurance cover of Rs 1 million for medical treatment of a family at public and private hospitals.

“This is happening first time in Pakistan’s 73 years history. Even the developed countries do not have such a facility as being provided to the people of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” the prime minister remarked.

He said the initiative would also lead to the development of private hospitals network across the two provinces because the people with the insurance facility would be confidently visiting the private hospitals for medical treatment.

He said like the university, the government would also build a 400-bed District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) to provide better treatment facilities to the people of Hafizabad.

He said besides building shelter homes for down-and-out people, the government had also launched the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme to make the banks give easy loan to even low-income people for building their own homes.

The loan would be available at only 5pc mark-up rate easily affordable for the beneficiaries to pay it back out of the amount they had been paying for house rent, he added.

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“Many people had been talking of ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan’ (food, clothing and shelter), but now for the first time, they (poor) will get home,” he remarked.

A PTI gathering at Hafizabad, addressed by Prime Minister Imran Khan

A PTI gathering at Hafizabad, addressed by Prime Minister Imran KhanOn his arrival, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar received the prime minister as the party songs were being played at the venue filled with the people holding party flags, banners and posters.

The prime minister said the uniformed education curriculum would provide opportunities to the students of government schools and seminaries to become doctors and engineers equal to those from any private institute.

He said the KP people re-elected the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) into government with even two-third majority because the pro-poor initiatives had reduced poverty from 27 to 18 per cent in the terror-hit region where the businesses had been relocated and factories were closed down.

Reiterating his dream to alleviate poverty from across the country, Imran Khan said as soon as Pakistan became a welfare state, it would emerge as a great nation.

Calling the public gatherings of opposition’s alliance a “circus”, the prime minister said despite having looted the country for 30 years, they desired to continue enjoying privileges instead of facing accountability.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), he said, acted as subservient to the opposition leaders in the past but the incumbent government made it to work independently. Due to the very reason, the opposition blackmailed the government on economic crisis, COVID-19 and even on the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) related legislation just to get NAB abolished, he added.

“Should I let them go? Do you feel pity for them?” the prime minister asked the audience, which shouted, “No”.

He assured the charged crowd that he would never pardon them until they paid back the nation’s looted money.

Having failed to pressure the government, he said, the opposition resorted to target the judiciary, the Army Chief, and the Inter Services Intelligence director general , which was tantamount to instigating a coup within the institutions, just to cover up their (opposition) theft.

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He said the conspirators like Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq of the past, and Mir Ayaz Sadiq (PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq for his statement on Indian pilot Abhinandan’s release) would be made accountable to law.

As the crowd chanted “diesel diesel” (term referred to JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman), the prime minister rubbished his (Maulana Fazl’s) criticism, saying Islam was under threat due to the people like him, not the one who had raised the issue of Holy Prophet’s (Peace Be Upon Him) sanctity at international fora.

“I didn’t do it for any vote rather it is part of my faith,” he remarked.

A PTI gathering at Hafizabad, addressed by Prime Minister Imran Khan
A PTI gathering at Hafizabad, addressed by Prime Minister Imran Khan

Recalling the controversy of poll rigging in 2013 and 2018, the prime minister said the PTI government would ensure holding the history’s fairest polls in future as multiple measures like electronic voting and other were being taken.

He said the credit for introducing neutral umpires in cricket also went to him as earlier the local umpires used to get biased for their own teams.

Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said the PTI government was serving the people with utmost honesty and sincerity. It was Imran Khan, who had taught the people to demand their rights and raised voice against deep-rooted corruption, he added.

He thanked the prime minister for raising the issues of Kashmir and Islamophobia globally, besides categorically rejecting the opposition’s desire for compromise on their corruption cases.

Those, who had been harping ‘Vote ko Izzat Do’ (give respect to vote), must know that it were actually they who had breached the sanctity of vote, he added.

Lauding the government’s globally recognized anti-COIVD efforts, the chief minister said the government was pursuing the PTI’s manifesto of enforcing rule of law and supporting the poor through anti-poverty Ehsaas Programme.

Sardar Buzdar also reiterated his resolve to make Punjab a model province by uplifting the backward areas at par with the developed ones.