Half of Punjab to get health coverage by year-end, pledges PM Imran

Published November 7, 2020
Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at a public gathering in Hafizabad on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at a public gathering in Hafizabad on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday said half of the residents of Punjab will receive the government's health cards by the end of this year while the entire province will receive health insurance by next year.

He made the announcement while addressing a large public gathering in Punjab's Hafizabad district after performing the groundbreaking of a university and a 400-bed hospital in the area.

The premier said it will be for the first time in Pakistan's 73-year history that a common man will be assured that he will have health coverage if someone in their family falls ill. The health card will allow its holders to get treatment at any hospital, government or private, of up to Rs1 million.

"This kind of health insurance is not available even in rich countries of the world. Because of this, private hospitals will be built in areas like Hafizabad because even poor people will be able to get treated using the health card," he noted.

The premier also said the government had set up panahgahs where the poor and labourers could stay and save money, and its next objective was to provide cheap housing to the people through the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme.

"Lots of people talked about roti, kapra and makaan throughout history. People will get their own houses for the first time," he added. The government is also working on introducing a uniform education curriculum for English and Urdu medium schools and madressahs, he said.

Nawaz speaking 'India's language'

During his speech, the premier accused PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif of speaking "India's language" by attacking the country's military leadership, saying it had strengthened his resolve even further to bring to justice the people who looted the country.

Referring to the anti-government Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance, he said the opposition was staging a "circus" because now the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was free to pursue cases against them.

"I want to tell all them. Your opponent previously were people who were thieves themselves or wanted power but now your opponent is a person whom Allah has taught to fight," the premier added.

He said the opposition had tried to "blackmail" the government by effectively demanding that NAB be disbanded before giving their consent to legislation concerning the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

"When I did not agree, they started attacking the judiciary [and] started talking against three sitting chief justices and then they attacked Pakistan's army and ISI chiefs," he said, adding that attacking the army and Inter-Services Intelligence chiefs was tantamount to attacking the army itself.

"That person sitting in London is [planning] a conspiracy against the army because it is not a democratic institution where the army and ISI chiefs can be replaced by passing a no-confidence motion," he added, referring to Nawaz.

"What he is actually saying is that he is asking for a coup within the armed forces so that our army is destroyed."

He then addressed the PML-N supremo directly, saying: "Nawaz Sharif, you have reached this limit where you're speaking India's language to protect your theft? This makes my resolve even more strong to not rest until we bring people like you to book."

Prime Minister Imran said the opposition alleged that the 2018 general elections were rigged, but questioned why they did not file petitions to challenge the elections in courts even though the government was ready to investigate.

He said his government was working on election reforms that will result in the holding of transparent and fair elections in the country.

Citing an example from his cricket career, the prime minister said he was the first captain who pushed for matches to be held under neutral umpires and under him, Pakistan even played West Indies and India under neutral umpires at home.

"I promise today that my government will conduct such elections for the first time in Pakistan that even those who lose will say they were fair," he said, adding that the government was also working on introducing electronic voting.

"We are bringing election reforms and technology. Just like I was the first cricket captain to ask for neutral umpires, I will be the first prime minister whose government will win after holding transparent and fair elections."

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