PM dares PDM on immediate resignations; says majority of members not to resign

ISLAMABAD, Dec 18 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday while daring the opposition parties on immediate resignations, predicted that majority of their members of National and provincial assemblies would not tender resignations.

“I invite them to resign today instead of tomorrow. I am predicting that majority of them [members of assemblies] will not resign,” Imran Khan said in an interview with a private television channel (Samaa News).

The prime minister further said he was waiting rather praying for their resignations. “If they resign, it will be better for Pakistan,” he remarked.

Imran Khan said the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) could do whatever it wanted, as the government was ready for everything.

“Whatever they do, they will make their own loss like they did at the Minar-e-Pakistan,” he remarked.

The prime minister described the PDM’s December 13 public meeting a “flop show” and said the people of Lahore did not come out and most of the participants comprised students of religious seminaries or those attracted by the offers of ‘Naan and Biryani’.

“They were claiming to gather a sea of people at the Minar-e-Pakistan,” Imran Khan remarked and offered to facilitate the PDM in their planned sit-in in Islamabad. “But they will not be able to achieve their objective,” he added.

The prime minister also dared the PDM to stage even a week-long sit-in the Federal Capital, saying after holding a 126 days sit-in in Islamabad he had become a “Dharna Specialist”.

“If they sustain even a week-long sit-in, he will start thinking of resignation,” he said in response to a question.

About the Senate elections, the prime minister said the polls could be held 30 days prior to the expiry of tenure of the present members.

As far as the procedure of open ballot or show of hands was concerned, he said, the government would approach the Supreme Court for interpretation of the relevant clauses of law.

He said as it was a well known fact that the people indulged in corruption through use of money in the Senate elections, the government’s intention was to check such malpractices in election of Upper House of Parliament.

“If a member of Senate is elected through corruption, how and what he will contribute in the legislation process?” he remarked.

To a question, the prime minister categorically rejected the reports of his cabinet member’s visit to Tel Aviv as “totally incorrect” and “fake news” and said it was part of India’s disinformation campaign recently exposed by EU DisinfoLab.

“It is totally incorrect. When we have a policy that we will not recognize Israel, why a minister will go there? And what he will do there? It is fake news,” he added.

The prime minister said a full-fledged campaign was being run and the European Union DisinfoLab had recently exposed the whole Indian network.

Some Pakistani nationals were also involved in the network [of disinformation] and were feeding them from here, he added.

“Uproar is going on in the country [by the opposition parties] for the last two years.., the voices of all is bad,” the prime minister remarked and questioned “Did no good thing happened [during this period?”

He lamented that nobody [from the opposition side] was telling that the country’s economy had come on a takeoff position.

“If the stock exchange is moving upward, it shows the confidence of investors and businessmen,” he said and again questioned, “Can anybody take the stock market up by force?”

Prime Minister Imran Khan said the governments of Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz took the country’s debt from Rs 6,000 billion in 2008 to Rs 30,000 billion in 2018.

To a question about the PDM’s movement, he said ‘big thieves’ had come together to protect their interests and seek an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) which he would never give.

The prime minister said the opposition parties blackmailed the government on the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) legislation by proposing amendments in 34 out of 38 clauses of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law, which if adopted, was tantamount to bury the NAB institution.

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He said if he gave the NRO to the opposition, it would be bad for the country’s future. “And, if do so, how I will face Allah Almighty?,” he remarked.

To a question, the prime minister said it was not his government which instituted the cases against Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, rather they themselves had made cases against each other during their respective regimes.

About the PDM’s ultimatum of January 31 for his resignation, Imran Khan said they were threatening the man, who had come into power after 22 years of struggle and had not inherited the leadership.

The prime minister said he had predicted in his first address to the nation in 2018 that the opposition parties would get united to protect their corruption and seek the NRO. “They have not come together for democracy or interests of the country, but are staging dramas for their personal interests,” he remarked.

Imran Khan said the PDM was appealing to the army to dislodge a democratically elected government, which was against the Constitution.

To a question, he said the institution of military was part of the government and always helped the civil institutions in hard times, including the fight against COVId-19, locust attack, polio immunization campaign, flooding etc.

The prime minister said since Nawaz Sharif was a product of the Establishment and had always come into power through their support, he was perturbed over why he was not being supported now.

To a question, he said he was very happy over the current excellent civil-military relations and had no problem with the army.

About Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan, Imran Khan remarked that it was a very sad story as he (Nawaz) travelled to London on medical grounds by showing his medical reports of serious ailment.

He, however, added that the government was looking ways and means to bring Nawaz Sharif back to Pakistan either through extradition or deportation.

The prime minister, in response to a question, said the PDM had the support of anti-Pakistan people and forces like Hussain Haqqani, who were trying to destabilize the country.

He said the narrative of Nawaz Sharif was highlighted by Indian media. “Why Nawaz Sharif is popular in India? He has become a hero in India,” he remarked.

Imran Khan said for the last 73 years any government in India had not been so anti-Muslim or anti-Pakistan than the current regime led by Narendra Modi, who fully tried to get Pakistan in the black list of FATF.

The prime minister said just like every household, the country also had to face fiscal deficit when it was under debt burden and had lower revenue generation than the expenses.

Pakistan had not been generating sufficient revenue for having the lowest tax-to-GDP ratio making the government short of money to improve hospitals and living conditions of the people, he added.

Imran Khan said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government inherited record fiscal and current account deficits, which he could not rectify by just switching a button.

“You have to reduce expenses. This surely brings difficulties when you come out of bankruptcy. There is no magic stick to correct it all,” he remarked.

However, he said the economic turnaround made by Pakistan despite the COVID-19 pandemic was a miracle.

To a question, the prime minister said the country faced inflation just because of lower dollar inflow, which devalued the rupee, and increased oil and power prices.

He said the solution was the wealth creation for which the government was facilitating the industrial sector. Despite all odds, the industry in Faisalabad and Sialkot was running on full capacity and even facing shortage of labour.

The construction industry in the country was witnessing a boom with record surge in cement sale which would ultimately create jobs for the people, he added.

To a question, he clarified that it was mainly the private sector that created jobs, as the government could give only a few.

He said through unnecessary recruitment, the previous governments made the institutions face loss like Pakistan International Airlines facing Rs 400 billion and Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) Rs 350 billion loss.

Everywhere in the world, the employees of the loss-making entities were laid off, but those being sacked from the PSM were being given a golden handshake, he added.

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The sacked employees, he said, would get a chance of re-employment, once any investor took over the mills and revived its operations.

He said the government had reduced the PM Office’s expenses by 70% and the Pakistan Army had also frozen its expenses despite challenging circumstances. Consequent to two-year efforts, the country had finally achieved primary balance as remittances and exports were also on the rise.

The prime minister assured that in near future, Pakistan would make swift progress as the government was executing mega development projects like two major Mohmand and Diamer Bhasha dams after 50 years and would develop two new cities of Ravi Urban Front and Bundal Island to create jobs as well as bringing foreign exchange.

Appreciating the government’s anti-poverty Ehsaas Programme as the best and internationally recognized scheme, the prime minister said the government was focusing on agriculture, construction and textile industries for jobs creations.

Moreover, following the Chinese anti-poverty model, the people were being given easy loans and women were getting cattle under the Ehsaas to enhance their earning.

Asked about the accountability process and the opposition’s criticism, the prime minister said the people, who had ruled the country for three decades, could not be equalized with the ones with just two years in government.

He said though being a fair and transparent personality, he was never afraid of free media, but the media too should not compare the opposition leaders having corrupt and criminal backgrounds with the new entrants.

An independent media was in the government’s favour to point out its mistakes for rectification, he added.

Imran Khan said he had nothing to do with the NAB investigation into cases against Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari, registered by themselves against each other. All what his government had done was to make the institutions independent, he added.

As regards the petrol price issue report, he said a three-member committee had been formed and action would be taken against the one found guilty.

Calling the PDM as Pakistan Anti-Democratic Movement, the prime minister questioned its chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman about the source of his properties worth billions while having no business.

Asked about Pakistan’s ties with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, he said the foreign policy of any country depended on its economic condition.

“If you have to beg everywhere… and your country is facing deficit, keep in mind, you will not have an independent foreign policy,” he commented.

To a question, the prime minister opined that the first choice of any US administration would be the establishment of peace in Afghanistan, of which Pakistan would be the second most beneficiary.

Pakistan would also use its influence on Taliban for reduction in violence for the success of the peace talks, he added.

Rubbishing the opposition’s criticism of losing Kashmir to India, the prime minister said contrarily, it had been made an international issue for the first time after 50 years and was also discussed thrice by the United Nations Security Council.

Nawaz Sharif as prime minister had not mentioned Kashmir, who used to hold no meeting with Hurriyat leaders while being in India, invite Modi on family events and even instructed the then foreign secretary not to criticize India, he added.

He said currently Kashmir was far more relevant than ever and Pakistan’s positive image had also been revived internationally.

Asked as to why he unfollowed people on his Twitter account, he said it was different to be a politician and a prime minister, and he was recommended to do so, having nothing to do with any conspiracy.

The prime minister said he was trying his best to change the public mindset for developing Pakistan as an independent nation which was not achievable until they paid taxes. “We will have to decide we have not to live this way. We will have to pay taxes. The country’s 70pc tax is paid by only 30,000 people. What others are doing,” he questioned.

He said after five-year term, it would be the people to decide whether to re-elect the PTI based on any change in their living condition and level of fulfilling the commitments made by him.

He said by 2023, the most important achievements of his government would be the worldwide recognition of Ehsaas Programme, the country’s industrialization, execution of long term projects like the dams and new cities, and environmental protection.