Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that it was time for the nation to "stop glorifying" money launderers who he said have caused damage to the country and impoverished the people.
Taking to Twitter, he stressed that no sort of protocol should be extended to such elements who are now "seeking refuge behind 'democracy'" — a reference to members of the main opposition PML-N and PPP parties, several of whom are facing corruption and money laundering cases.
"Where [in the world] are plunderers of public wealth given such special treatment?" he questioned, without specifying what protocol he was referring to. The premier added that it was time to treat such people "as criminals".
Prime Minister Imran's tweet comes hours after he, in a Tuesday night national address, heaped scorn on the opposition parties and announced the establishment of a high-powered commission under him to probe as to how successive governments of the PPP and PML-N took Rs24 trillion loans during the last decade and brought the country to the verge of bankruptcy.
The address had followed a noisy budget session in the National Assembly and two major arrests — Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz by the National Accountability Bureau and MQM founder Altaf Hussain by London police — earlier in the day. On Monday, former president Asif Ali Zardari was also arrested by NAB.
Accusing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, PPP co-chairman Zardari and their families of money laundering, the prime minister presented figures to inform the nation that their fortune had increased manifold.
Terming the Charter of Democracy signed by the PPP and the PML-N a ‘charter of corruption’, he said that people had been witnessing real change in the country as very powerful and influential persons were now facing accountability.
“Now I am ordering the establishment of a high-powered commission to ascertain what happened in the last decade and to bring to justice all those involved in bringing Pakistan to this condition.”
He said the commission would include representatives of intelligence agencies, the Federal Board of Revenue, Federal Investigation Agency and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and work under his (the PM’s) supervision.
He alleged that the opposition parties got united and were trying to blackmail the government because they wanted a National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). “They may threaten my government, they may threaten my life, [but] they cannot deter me. I will bring everyone who has brought this country to this state to justice. This is my promise to the people of Pakistan.”
Earlier, speaking at a meeting of PTI’s parliamentary committee, he expressed satisfaction over the arrest of opposition leaders in corruption cases and termed it a “good omen” for the future of the country.
“The arrest of PPP chief Asif Ali Zardari, PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz and Altaf Hussain is obviously good for the country,” said the PM, according to a participant of the meeting.
The prime minister said the recent arrests showed that national institutions had been strengthened and across-the-board accountability was being conducted.