Opposition ‘blackmail’ won’t work, says Imran

29 Oct 2019

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NANKANA SAHIB: Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of Guru Nanak University on Monday.—APP
NANKANA SAHIB: Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of Guru Nanak University on Monday.—APP

LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the joint opposition seeking his resignation through Azadi march can’t blackmail him no matter what strategy it adopts.

“As long as I am alive, I will not give NRO [relief to the corrupt] to anyone. “The two NROs given by former dictator General Pervez Musharraf to Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari for the former’s departure to Saudi Arabia and the latter’s entry into Pakistan led Pakistan to bankruptcy,” the premier said while speaking at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of Baba Guru Nanak University in Nankana Sahib, 60km from here, on Monday.

He said that during his first speech after becoming the prime minister he had predicted that all the corrupt would soon join hands against him. “The Azadi march leaders are not marching to prove that the PTI government has failed, but are afraid that this government is succeeding,” he added.

He said the Azadi marchers were clueless about the reason of their protest as at one point of time they said a Jewish lobby was taking over Pakistan, then tried to attach it [the government] with the Qadianis and at another time blamed it for price hike.

He alleged that all the corrupt political leaders had increased the country’s debt four times during the past 10 years, causing a massive price hike. He said the government had to use half of its tax collected from across the country to pay instalments of the loans secured by successive governments of the Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. “We are left with no money to run the country,” he said.

Speaking at foundation stone-laying ceremony of Baba Guru Nanak University, PM says Azadi marchers are clueless about reason of their protest

Mr Khan regretted that other countries were not sharing information about the money stashed abroad by the corrupt as their citizens by virtue of iqama (work permit). He said the corrupt mafia had started calling the government a failure from day one.

“The Pakistan government brought economic reforms under grave stress and pressure and stabilised its economy. Now the IMF, ADB and World Bank are recognising Pakistan government’s economic reforms that helped it ascend to the top among this region in ensuring ease of doing business”, he added.

The prime minister said traders were now agreeing to pay fixed taxes, adding that the world was now considering Pakistan as a lucrative place for investment.

Referring to the Bureau of Statistics’ figures, he claimed that the price hike in the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government’s first year was less than that posted by the PPP and PML-N in their respective first years. “One tough year has gone, now the country will progress leaps and bounds,” he said.

Taking exception to the explanation sought by the Islamabad High Court from the federal and Punjab governments in former premier Nawaz Sharif’s bail plea in the Al-Azizia case, Mr Khan said guarantee of anyone’s life could not be given. “When I cannot guarantee my life for another day, how can I guarantee anyone else’s life?” he asked.

The IHC registrar office had on Saturday issued a release order for ailing Nawaz Sharif after a two-judge bench granted him post-arrest interim bail till Tuesday only when the National Accountability Bureau gave a categorical statement that the NAB chairman did not oppose his release on humanitarian grounds and the federal government refused to take responsibility for his physical well-being.

The prime minister regretted that there was a class-based law system in the country and there was no rule of law for all citizens in the country. “The PTI government’s biggest struggle is to eliminate the class-based system and laws in the country,” he said.

He asserted that the federal and Punjab governments had made their best efforts to offer best medical care to Mr Sharif. He said a specialist was called from Karachi and he himself sent Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital’s chief executive officer to assess the patient’s health.

Praising the Punjab government for paving the way for establishing the Baba Guru Nanak University as a best tribute to Baba Guru Nanak on his 550th birth anniversary, the prime minister regretted that the successive rulers did not focus on the importance of education and lost Muslim’s bright glory. He said he had decided to open the Kartarpur Corridor to benefit the Sikh community to visit the holy places in Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur as serving humanity was the teachings of Islam as well as all other religions.

The prime minister directed the Punjab government to retrieve the Auqaf land around saints’ shrines across the province and establish universities and hospitals there for the benefit of humanity. He asked the federal education minister to work on developing a uniform education system for students belonging to all segments of society.

Later, the prime minister visited Lahore and held a series of meetings on law and order, health sector, local government system, municipal services programme and financial and economic policies. He also held separate meetings with Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Governor Chaudhry Sarwar.

Rana Sarwar also contributed to this report from Sheikhupura

Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2019