• Rubbishes opposition’s allegation of being ‘puppet’
• Calls army his subordinate institution like bureaucracy
• Says allies pursuing PTI’s manifesto
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said people will pay no heed to the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) call for ‘long march’ and rejected the opposition’s allegation of a ‘puppet’ premier, arguing that if it was true why he did not hold talks with them even after the military leadership had asked him to do so in order to end political instability.
In his first interview of the year with Dunya TV on Friday, Mr Khan made it clear that Pakistan Army was his subordinate institution just as the bureaucracy was.
While reiterating that he would never give any National Reconciliation Ordinance-like relief to the opposition leaders facing corruption references, the PM said: “Pakistani nation takes to streets only against corruption and for their genuine rights, but this time they know PDM leaders are planning the long march only to save their ill-gotten money.”
Asked about the opposition’s one-month deadline before holding a long march against his government, Mr Khan said: “I can give in writing that Pakistani nation will not come out on the streets on the call of PDM.”
Responding to another question, he said: “If I am a puppet and if the army has asked me to hold talks with the opposition then why I am not doing so.” He said if he was a puppet, why he was not making any compromise on the manifesto of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). “The fact is that army stands by me in implementation of my government’s manifesto. Army wants stability and progress of the country and that is why it is with me,” he said, adding that the government did not interfere in the affairs of state institutions including the army.
The prime minister in reply to another question agreed that the army had asked him to talk to the opposition to resolve political instability in the country. “I am ready to hold negotiations with opposition on important national issues. I am ready to talk but I will commit treason if I give NRO to the opposition. Whatever they (opposition) will do, I will not give them NRO,” Mr Khan declared.
Regarding PDM’s anti-government drive, the PM said since the start of PTI government, the opposition had been giving repeated deadlines for its ouster but the opposition had always failed. “The PDM has already faced humiliation in Lahore Jalsa at Minar-i-Pakistan as its leaders are not popular and the people did not come out on their call. On the other hand I filled Minar-i-Pakistan four times,” he recalled.
PM Khan reiterating his government’s resolve to uplift the people’s living standards and improve justice system and hoped that the new year 2021 would bring about good time for Pakistan.
About frequent changes in cabinet, he explained that all the reshuffles in federal and provincial cabinets, and bureaucracy would become irrelevant on the basis of just one question whether Imran Khan had improved the lives of people after five years. “You get a mandate for five years. I will not commit to not change my team. I am the captain and always kept changing the team. I have to win the match,” he remarked.
Mr Khan announced that the government would approach the Chief Justice of Pakistan for setting up a special court to hear the corruption cases of ministers on a day-to-day basis, if any, and decide their fate within minimum possible time. He assured the nation that action would be taken against any of his ministers found involved in corruption. “I will take action. This is my ideology for 24 years. The corruption by an SHO (station house officer) or Patwari (revenue officer) disturbs the people only, but that by a prime minister or ministers destroy the country,” he said.
Referring to the opposition’s remarks against him that he had himself claimed in one of his recent speeches that he had not come to the power with complete homework, the prime minister said: “I have never called myself ill-prepared to run the government, rather I proposed at least six weeks for prior briefings by the state machinery on government affairs to a newly elected government, on the pattern of the United States.”
The prime minister said during the first two years, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government had paid back $20 billion debt, spending half of its receipts and leaving behind a limited money for public welfare.
Highlighting the government’s achievements on economic front, Mr Khan mentioned the surplus current account, increased exports, improved stock market and textile industry running at full capacity, all due to the pro-business policies.
Asked why he had made alliance with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) even after it was accused of being involved in “criminal” activities, the PM said: “I formed a coalition with the MQM after the party had parted ways from terrorist Altaf Hussain.”
However, he said, he had already announced to never form any coalition with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) or the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as they would impede him in his mission of accountability and purging the country of corruption.
He claimed that the coalition partners were pursuing government’s policies and PTI’s manifesto, and rubbished the notions of any differences of his party with the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, MQM or Grand Democratic Alliance.
Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2021