ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday asked Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) workers to get ready to ‘counter’ an anti-government movement which may be launched by the opposition parties after Eid.
As a faithful man, Mr Khan said, he had dedicated his life to bringing some ease to the difficult lives of the poor and the downtrodden. He was speaking at a ceremony held at Jinnah Convention Centre to mark the 23rd foundation day of the PTI. A large number of party leaders, workers and supporters, besides ministers and special assistants to the prime minister, attended the event.
PM Khan reiterated that no NRO-like concessional deal will be given to the former rulers and reaffirmed the government’s 10-point agenda comprising Ehsas, a poverty alleviation programme, Naya Pakistan Housing Programme, boosting tourism, introduction of a new and “comprehensive” local government system, agriculture reforms, education reforms and improvement in public healthcare system.
Speaking at 23rd foundation day of party, Imran says no NRO-like deal will be given to previous rulers
In most part of his speech, the prime minister targeted the opposition, saying he would continue to “expose corruption and wrong doings” of former rulers.
Talking about the opposition leaders’ threats to stage a long march against the government, he told PTI workers to remain united “because they [opposition leaders] are uniting for their so-called agenda of saving democracy”.
“Maulana Fazlur Rehman [chief of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl], leaders of N-League and Bilawal Bhutto ‘sahib’ are planning to stage a long march, but on what grounds,” the prime minister wondered.
There was applause among the crowd when he called PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari ‘sahib’ and acknowledged that to err is human, alluding to his April 24 speech in South Waziristan tribal district in which he had called Mr Bhutto-Zardari ‘sahiba’.
He said opposition leaders, who were responsible for worries of the common man and economic crisis in the country, were making a hue and cry to get a NRO-like concessional deal.
“I will never give NRO to those who have plundered national wealth and put the country under the burden of Rs24,000 billion debt in 10 years,” the price minister said.
Those who were responsible for the miseries of the people were now making a hue and cry that the PTI government, only in eight months, had failed to deliver, Mr Khan said.
He said the government would overcome prevailing economic crisis and provide relief to the common man from unprecedented price hike and other problems.
Vowing to improve life of underprivileged class in the country, Mr Khan said he had gained nothing from politics and continued his political struggle for 23 years to fulfil his responsibility towards the Pakistani people. He said he could have led a happy life as he had fame and money, but preferred to dedicate himself to the wellbeing of poor and needy people.
Recalling 23 years of his political struggle, Mr Khan said the PTI was initially written off by some people after some of its members got disheartened and left the party.
The PTI was formed by cricketer-turned-politician Imran in Lahore on April 25, 1996.
At the start of the ceremony, a video recapping Mr Khan’s political career and struggle of his party was screened, followed by a performance by Punjabi folk legend Ataullah Eesakhelvi, who has lent his vocals to a PTI anthem. The video also showed former defence minister Khawaja Asif saying “people will forget Panama Leaks” and deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif shouting “Mujhay Kyun Nikala”.
Speaking on the occasion, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is also PTI vice chairman, congratulated the prime minister and the party’s founding members and workers who he said had taken Imran Khan’s message to every village and remote area of the country.
Criticising the party’s rivals, he said those who were mocking the PTI were now uniting against the government. “Opposition parties ask us is this Naya Pakistan. They ruined the country for 40 years and now expect Imran Khan to fix it in eight months.”
Mr Qureshi said the PTI voter was quite intelligent and knew the situation the PTI government had inherited. He asked PTI workers to prepare for local bodies’ elections, recalling that the Punjab Assembly had passed a local government bill on Thursday.
PTI chief organiser Saifullah Khan Nyazee recalled Prime Minister Khan’s political struggle, praising him for standing up against the “rotten political system”.
Arsha Dad, the party’s secretary general, said he had prepared a new constitution of the PTI that would streamline it and make it a more effective party.
Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2019