• Seeks open scrutiny of all parties in funds collection
• Says 3G/4G internet services to become operational in merged districts today
SOUTH WAZIRISTAN: Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for an open trial in the foreign funding case and challenged the leadership of all opposition parties who have been criticising the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) for ‘illegal funds collection’ to face the proceedings too.
“Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders must also sit” and the proceedings be aired live, said PM Khan while speaking to journalists in South Waziristan on Wednesday.
He said sources of all the parties’ funds should be made public. “I can put it to a challenge that PTI is the only political party that has been involved in political fundraising,” he said, adding that it was the turn of opposition parties to disclose the sources of their funds.
The foreign funding case was filed by a founding member of the PTI in November 2014. As the case has not been decided for more than six years, the opposition parties have been staging protests and demanding the Election Commission of Pakistan to take action against the ruling party for its alleged involvement in illegal collection of foreign funding. The opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) convener Maulana Fazlur Rehman recently termed the foreign funding case “the biggest scandal in Pakistan’s political history” whose central character, he said, was none other than PM Khan himself.
While addressing a selected gathering of elders in Wana, the prime minister said the PTI government brushed aside security concerns associated with the launch of 3G/4G service in the merged districts of former Fata. “Good news is that 3G/4G service will become operational [in the tribal areas] from today,” he announced amid loud applause and slogans in his favour.
“Provision of 3G/4G network in Waziristan has been under discussion for the last one year, but security issues were major reasons behind delay in providing this facility. I spoke to security agencies. And Gen Bajwa and DG ISI Gen Faiz decided to provide 3G/4G internet service,” he said.
The government had launched 3G/4G network in 2014, but the service was not extended to militancy-stricken tribal borderlands. The non-availability of the network was badly affecting different sectors especially education, banking and business. The demand for expanding 3G/4G service to the merged districts increased in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, because students were unable to attend online classes. He said 3G/4G was crucial for education and development and that was genuine demand of the youth of the merged districts. He said the world had changed after mobile and internet services. But there was this concern that terrorists might use this facility that caused delay, he reiterated.
He said extremists were in power in India and a man who was involved in the massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat about 17 years ago had become prime minister. He said that such extremists prime minister and government had never come into power in India in past 73 years. He said India was trying its best to create instability and fan terrorism in Pakistan and financing some groups. “India is making same tactics in Waziristan and instigating its youth against Pakistan too,” he remarked, explaining that was the reason 3G/4G service had not been extended to tribal districts.
Terming poverty and unemployment major issues in the merged districts, Mr Khan said his government had focused on establishing schools, universities and colleges to impart technical education to youth of the area. “Youth is our strength and if the government impart them technical education then they will not only boost their families, areas but also the country. He said that unemployment was second major challenge after education.
He said that Waziristan was the most affected area among the tribal districts and the government would give top priority, adding that the government would give more loans to overcome unemployment. He said that the valiant tribesmen of Waziristan had fought against the British empire and also waged war in Kashmir. He assured the people of Waziristan that the government was fully committed towards working for their welfare.
He said climate of South Waziristan was suitable for growing olive trees and a survey had been carried out for planting olive trees next month. These trees would be handed over to the local communities.
“The philosophy of the present government was to uplift those people and areas that had been ignored in the past. He said that the Kamyab Jawan programme was beginning of the government’s initiative to alleviate unemployment and poverty.
The PM also announced that the people of the region would receive health insurance that would entitle each card-holding family to get free medical treatment costing up to Rs600,000.
On the occasion, the PM distributed cheques among successful applicants of the Kamyab Jawan Loan Scheme. Governor Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, federal minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Ameen Gandapur and senior officials were present at the ceremony.
Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2021