Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday termed corruption as the biggest evil plaguing poor countries, saying the leading cause of poverty around the world was not a lack of resources but the corruption of leadership.
“Corruption is something that destroys a country. The poor countries are poor not because they lack resources but because their leadership is corrupt,” the prime minister said during a wide-ranging interview with Al Jazeera.
The developing world is poor because the ruling elite siphoned off the money and laundered it into offshore accounts, he added.
He said the rule of law and public welfare were the two guiding principles of the state of Madinah.
“A society is civilised only when it has the rule of law. Without the rule of law, there is no future. When ministers start stealing, you cannot progress,” he remarked.
Fight against 'corrupt ruling elite'
Talking about his political struggle, the prime minister said his fight was against the corrupt ruling elite that was "destroying the country".
He told the interviewer that there were two entrenched family parties — in an apparent reference to the PPP and the PML-N — so fighting them was "like fighting a mafia".
He alleged that both the parties used state resources as well as money and media against him.
In an apparent reaction to his remarks, PPP Senator Sherry Rahman later said the "rhetoric of blaming others for one's incompetence" no longer worked.
The total debt of the country increased by 70 per cent during the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's tenure and yet, "you are blaming others," Rahman tweeted.
She added: "In today's weekly report, the overall rate of inflation [in the country] has reached 19.49pc. Is the current government not responsible for record debt, inflation and unemployment during the three years [of its tenure]? When will the government accept its responsibilities?"
Rahman went on to say that the prime minister "thinks that everyone except him entered politics to do corruption, but the majority of the country thinks that corruption has increased in this government's tenure".
India 'ruled by fanatics'
In the interview with Al Jazeera, the premier also spoke about the Kashmir issue, saying that it was Pakistan's responsibility to raise the issue at every forum.
He said if India attempted to attack Pakistan, it would get a befitting response exactly the way it had in 2019.
“Only mad people can think of bringing two nuclear powers face to face. Indian people are good but they are being ruled by fanatics,” he remarked.
Regarding the Afghanistan situation, he said it was "insanity" what the West had been doing in the country for 20 years.
He said no Afghan was involved in the 9/11 attack but western powers still occupied the landlocked country to achieve objectives that could never be done through military means.
Due to that very stance, the prime minister said, he was criticised immensely.
Responding to a question about Afghanistan, he said Pakistan faced a "very difficult" situation after the exit of the US and Taliban takeover.
He said the world, including the US, should think rationally for the sake of 40 million people or else the situation would lead towards chaos and terrorism as the militant Islamic State group was already present there.
In case of any chaos in Afghanistan, Pakistan would be the biggest sufferer as the country had already been hosting 3m refugees.
He said he would order an investigation if anyone points out the corruption by any of his ministers as such corruption by ruling elite destroys the country.
In response to a question, the prime minister said his government had inherited the highest-ever debt, fiscal deficit and current account deficit, from which it would take time to recover.
He said Pakistan had effectively navigated through the Covid-19 pandemic by maintaining a balance between lives and livelihood.
He said like other developing countries, Pakistan also experienced imported inflation owing to the international price hike of commodities such as edible oil and pulses.
Coming to Islamophobia, he said Muslim leaders never portrayed the real picture of Islam before the West, particularly after 9/11. This made the Muslims in Western countries face Islamophobia despite the fact that terrorism had no relation with Islam.
He said he alone could not make any change, rather the whole Muslim world must take a joint stance at forums such as the United Nations to make some difference.
The prime minister advised the youth to make Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) as their role model, adding that they should know how he transformed the character of people and turned them into leaders.
He was a “blessing for mankind, not just the Muslims. Anyone who will follow his model will rise,” the prime minister remarked.
Asked about his cricketing career, the prime minister said passion for the sport runs in his family as his cousins and uncles were already playing before him.
He said sport taught him the ability to cope with the bad times and the dynamics of picking up yourself again.
The premier said Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital was the first private facility of its kind where 75 per cent of the patients were treated free of charge. He said he would never have been able to build the hospital if he had not learned struggle from cricket.
The prime minister said he wanted to build Pakistan on the model followed in the state of Madinah, adding that Pakistan was earlier being ruled by two corrupt families, which came into power just for making money.