LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that Pakistan had remained a victim of “elite capture” that left the middle class and poor segments of society completely powerless to tread on the path to progress and prosperity.
The prime minister said the government expected the ongoing hullabaloo from the former rulers across the country as they were asked to be held accountable for the misdeeds they had committed during their rule spanning three decades. Thinking that they were all above the law, Mr Khan said, the leaders of all opposition parties got together and created the Pakistan Democratic Movement to demand NRO.
“My commitment is to bring elite and powerful under the rule of law and support the poor segments of society to make Pakistan a truly welfare state,” he said.
The prime minister was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of a low-cost housing project in Raiwind, where he also virtually inaugurated the same project at nine other locations in Chiniot, Dera Ghazi Khan, Chunian, Khanewal, Khushab, Mandi Bahauddin, Mianwali, Jalalpur Pir Wala and Sargodha.
Says successive governments ignored poor segments of society; urges masses to wear masks
PM Khan said the successive governments had completely ignored the common man as the elite separated their educational institutions and health facilities and left the public sector educational institutions and health facilities to rot. He regretted that law of the land was not strong enough to lay its hands on the influential people who were looting public resources and building palaces in Dubai and London.
He said Lahore and Karachi saw a mushroom growth of unplanned shanties and katchi abadis that destroyed the sewerage system and polluted the groundwater table leading to diseases and miseries. On the other hand, he said, qabza mafia emerged and joined hands with the judiciary and police to illegally occupy lands of poor people and of the government. The land retrieval cases continued lying in courts for decades, he added.
Regretting that no one thought of helping the poor and government servants to fulfil their dreams of having their own homes, the prime minister said the Naya Pakistan Housing Project had planned low-cost housing, offering land on subsidised rates, subsidised loans from banks as well as a subsidy of Rs300,000 on construction of houses. He said this project would create a revolution as the construction industry propelled economic activity in its attached 30 industries and help in reducing joblessness in the country.
The prime minister said he had worked much on the country’s economy and was now planning to focus on agriculture, tourism and information technology sectors.
Mr Khan also made an impassioned appeal to the masses to wear facemasks since the nation is surviving through the lethal third wave of coronavirus.
Referring to the terrible situation in India’s big cities where people are not able to get oxygen and ventilators and dying on roads, he said Pakistan would have also faced the same situation had it not doubled its capacity in public sector hospitals.
“Next two weeks are very important and only wearing facemasks can help control coronavirus infections in the country,” he added.
Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said the prime minister’s commitment to constructing five million houses would be materialised, adding that the first phase of construction of 35,000 apartments in Lahore had started. He said the foundation stone of the LDA City Housing project had also been laid to construct 4,000 apartments.
The chief minister said 133 locations had been identified for the prime minister’s affordable housing project in different districts, adding that 10,120 houses would be built in the first phase at 32 localities in 26 tehsils of Punjab.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khan held a one-on-one meeting with Chief Minister Buzdar and chaired a meeting to review the pace of work on the low-cost housing project across the province. Later, the prime minister met MNAs and MPAs belonging to south Punjab and discussed public welfare and development projects, besides the setting up of south Punjab secretariat.
Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2021