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KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan holds a meeting with a delegation of the business community here on Wednesday. — APP
KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan holds a meeting with a delegation of the business community here on Wednesday. — APP

KARACHI: Prime Min­is­ter Imran Khan on Wednes­day accused the opposition of “blackmailing” him and threatening to remove his government only to get relief over the ongoing process of accountability and rejected the suggestions to “look forward” without trying the plunders of national wealth in the court of law.

The prime minister spent a busy day in Karachi where he landed at the old terminal of Quaid-i-Azam Interna­tional Airport in the afternoon and wrapped up his visit within a few hours after meeting members of the business community and leaders of his party at the Governor House before finally speaking to the media.

“People are suggesting to me to quit this accountability [drive] and look forward,” he said in his brief address explaining the purpose of his visit before taking questions from the reporters. “The people who are suggesting such moves are in fact involved in an act of treason. I can’t do this and I will not. If we stop accountability against all those looters and plunderers and lose this chance of justice, the country will never become self-reliant.”

He referred to the accoun­tability process in China where more than 400 people of minister-level were sent to prison for looting public mon­ey and misappropriation of government funds. But here in Pakistan, the prime minister said, he and his party were being opp­osed only for carrying out accountability and trying those powerful individuals who had built fortunes while usurping public money.

Economy can no more be run by the obsolete system, Imran tells Karachi’s business community

“From the very first day, they started blackmailing me. I was not even allowed to smoothly address the first session of the National Assembly. Why is there such a hue and cry? They only want to hear three letters from me — NRO. If we allow an NRO then there will be no problem and the government will become good. But I am not going to do this,” said Mr Khan.

He said the government had adopted a three-pronged strategy to overcome the economic crisis that included measures to increase revenue, reducing the expenses and carrying out fair accountability process to bring back the looted money to the national exchequer.

In his meetings with business delegations, the prime minister emphasised that poverty alleviation was the top priority of the government and sought the traders’ help to achieve this goal with active involvement of all stakeholders.

Earlier, PM Khan held back-to-back meetings with the delegations of the business community representing different sectors, including capital market, textile, leather and automotive industry.

A statement issued after the meetings suggested that despite being under severe criticism from the opposition and facing strong reaction from the business community, the PM stayed firm when during his interaction with the businessmen he hinted at no major changes in the measures announced in the federal budget 2019-20, saying the country’s economy could “no more be run by the obsolete system”.

“I along with my team am here to take stock of the situation and help address all genuine grievances of the investors and the business community,” the statement quoted the PM as saying.

Talking to the delegations of representatives of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Karachi Cha­mber of Commerce and Ind­ustry and Pakistan Automo­tive Parts Manufacturers and Assemblers Associ­ation, he said reforms in the taxation system were also an essential component of the PTI’s economic policy.

The government, he said, equally focused on advancement of investment, raise in revenue generation, inflation control and combating associated increase in the cost of living.

The prime minister assured the representatives of the local business community that his visit to Karachi was aimed at personally listening to their problems and get them solved for good.

Responding to the suggestions forwarded by the business community, PM Khan said an efficient strategy was being evolved to counter smuggling which was causing massive loss to the industrial sector as well as the economy.

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda, Minister for Ports and Shipping Syed Ali Zaidi, Adviser to the PM on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Adviser on Business and Trade Abdul Razzaq Dawood, Adviser on Economic Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, Federal Board of Revenue Chairman Shabbar Zaidi and State Bank Governor Dr Raza Baqar accompanied the prime minister during the meetings.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2019