ISLAMABAD, Sep 16 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday while calling the interests of Pakistan and opposition leaders opposed to each other, categorically said the government could make any compromise with the opposition for country and democracy, but never on corruption.
“We told them that it is in Pakistan’s interest…(Having witnessed) the way they negotiated (to support the legislation), it is my conviction that their interests and those of Pakistan are opposed. They have nothing to do with Pakistan’s interest. They tried to blackmail us to protect their interest,” the prime minister said addressing the Joint Sitting of the Parliament.
The joint sitting was convened mainly to make the legislation prerequisite for Pakistan’s removal from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list, which, the prime minister said, was also essential to curb money laundering.
As the House passed the much-awaited legislation, the opposition benches walked out of the session after their amendments to the proposed bills were rejected by the majority voice vote amidst desk thumping by the ruling benches.
The prime minister thanked his party and the allies for supporting the legislation believing that moving Pakistan to the FATF blacklist could make it face financial sanctions to ultimately beget inflation and thus poverty.
The prime minister said the FATF issue had not surfaced in his government rather the same was inherited by it. Pakistan’s moving to the FATF’s blacklist would bring about sanctions cutting off its foreign financing, ultimately pressuring the local currency and begetting inflation.
He said Pakistan had earned global recognition over its strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic with the World Health Organization advising other countries to learn a lesson from it. Imran Khan said he had expected at least “a little bit” applause from the opposition for simultaneously containing the pandemic and protecting the economy contrary to India whose gross domestic product (GDP) had downed by 24 percent despite a blanket lockdown, which was also strongly suggested by the opposition in Pakistan.
He said during the negotiations with the government on FATF legislation, the opposition had put forward amendments in 38 clauses of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Act, which was tantamount to burying the institution just to safeguard their interests.
Having failed to convince the government, the opposition, as a last resort, sought withdrawal of NAB’s powers to probe the money laundering cases, he added.
“If they have done nothing wrong, what they are scared of. Why aren’t we fearful?” the prime minister questioned.
He said due to immense money laundering from the Third World to developed countries, Imran Khan said if spent at home, the laundered money could help bring human development through construction of schools, hospitals and other infrastructure.
He said the FATF legislation was not merely essential to exclude Pakistan from the FATF’s grey list but also to curb money laundering as according to a State Department report, around $10 billion was laundered annually from Pakistan, which was near to double the $6 billion IMF loan obtained by the incumbent government.
“This was critical for the nation’s future,” he remarked and questioned as to why no previous ruler had ever tried to curb money laundering rather they purchased properties at the world’s costliest locations in London.
While comparing the financial position of Sharif family and Ishaq Dar before joining politics and today, the prime minister said they always tried to play the card of political victimization whenever questioned about the sources of their fortunes.
He said the parliament’s only responsibility was to protect public interest but contrarily, the opposition was protecting their leaders, who had nothing to do with Pakistan’s betterment.
The prime minister also appreciated the ruling and coalition parties for passing the PMDC (Pakistan Medical & Dental Council) bill, which, he hoped, would help elevate the dwindling standard of medical and dentistry education in Pakistan by introducing certain quality parameters.