• Says India is backing IS for terrorism in Pakistan
• PPP accused of neglecting Karachi’s needs

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said two National Reconciliation Ordinan­ces (NRO) (concessional agreements with opposition leaders) promulgated by former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf had unbearably dented the country and its economy.

“Any NRO to the opposition leaders for their corruption cases would ease out my life but it would be disastrous for the country,” the prime minister said during an hour-long interaction with YouTubers and educationists, while referring to the opposition leaders who, he claimed, were seeking NRO from him to save their skin in corruption references.

“During the last 10 years, they [opposition leaders] had given NROs to each other and consequently the country’s debt swelled fourfold and there was the same NAB (National Accountability Bureau) which did nothing against them,” he added.

“Two NROs given by Pervez Musharraf had damaged the country to a great extent and overburdened the country under debts that half of the revenue today goes to debt payment, leaving the government with short of resources to spend on public welfare,” he said, adding that any such exemption undermined the nation’s moral standards which the opposition leaders had unfortunately done, with even the media showing leniency towards their corruption of multimillion rupees.

Referring to some opposition leaders who held iqama (work permits of other countries), Mr Khan said: “ No one in any civilised country could ever think of its prime minister or foreign minister doing job in a Dubai firm just to launder the money abroad.”

Calling it a “classic case”, he referred to a question by a news anchor as to why Khawaja Asif was jailed for corruption of “just” Rs220 million. It reflected the downing of a nation’s morality, he added.

The prime minister viewed the least corrupt governments as the most prosperous ones and said that in order to change society and mindset the nation would have to consider the corruption as an evil, otherwise it could not be eliminated just through enforcement of law.

He said it took a long time and required tough decisions to challenge the status quo and exemplified China which jailed over 400 ministerial level people for corruption, thus lifting the nation out of poverty.

India-IS nexus

Prime Minister Khan said India was backing the militant Islamic State (IS) group for terrorism in Pakistan that resulted in the killing of Hazara coal miners on Jan 4.

He said the recent killing of Hazaras was one of the incidents of militant sectarianism that started in Pakistan after Afghan Jihad in the 1980s.

“Now India has made a nexus with IS to carry out terrorism in Pakistan,” the prime minister said, adding that he had already hinted three months ago that such an incident could take place in the country.

Responding to a question about poor law and order and lack of development in Balochistan, the prime minister said none of the previous governments had paid attention to Balochistan because vote bank in the province of any political party was quite meagre.

“The vote bank of Balochistan is equivalent to that of Faisalabad division and, therefore, less attention was paid to the province by all previous governments in the past,” he said, adding that the previous governments were formed by the parties which had good number of votes in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, without having vote bank in Balochistan.

“Similarly, Pakistan Peoples Party, which has a good vote bank in Sindh, does not require votes from Karachi and, therefore, the party had never paid any heed to provision of basic civic amenities to the people of Karachi,” he added.

The prime minister said the feudal lords of Balochistan had made alliance with all the governments in the past and for that the latter had put all developments funds on discretion of the former who had filled their own pockets and had not spent the funds on the betterment of the people of the province. “As feudal of Balochistan did not spend on the poor, poverty increased in the province,” he added.

Tax system

Responding to a question about the government’s plan to improve the country’s tax system, the prime minister said the tax system had corrupted because of corrupt leaders who had ruled the country, including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari. “Moral authority always comes down from higher level as when the leader is corrupt then corruption goes downwards everywhere,” he added.

PM Khan thanked overseas Pakistanis for what he called “yet another record-breaking” month of $ 2.4 billion remittances in December 2020 and said that with over $2bn inflows for the sixth consecutive month, the country had recorded 24.9 per cent growth in remittances over the last year.

“I want to thank our overseas Pakistanis for yet another record-breaking month of remittances in Dec: $2.4 billion. MashaAllah, 1st time in Pakistan remittances have been above $2 billion for 6 consecutive months,” Mr Khan had said in a tweet. “Total for 6 months of this fiscal year $14.2 billion — a 24.9% growth over last year,” he added.

Prime Minister Khan expressed grief over the death of renowned industrialist Seth Abid Hussain. “Saddened to learn of the passing of Seth Abid Hussain,” he said in a tweet. He said late Seth Abid was one of the early donors of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust Hospital. He conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family and prayed for strength to bear the loss.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2021

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