ISLAMABAD: For a second time within the short span of three days, Prime Minister Imran Khan gave another excuse for not bringing about the promised reforms, this time pointing the finger at lack of two-thirds majority in the National Assembly required to ensure smooth passage of legislation.

The PM asserted that civil and military leadership of the country was on the same page on the foreign policy that Pakistan would not be part of any international camp in any conflict.

“No reforms can be made in the country unless the government enjoyed two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. Running the government by giving share to all is not a big deal, but if you want to bring about reforms you have to have two-thirds majority,” the prime minister said in an interaction with former Pakistani diplomats and some journalists on Sunday.

Mr Khan said the government was facing difficulties in enacting laws as it did not have the two-thirds majority in the lower house of parliament and often legislations were blocked in the Senate where the opposition was in majority. “These pieces of legislation sometimes got stuck in the National Assembly or in the Senate,” he added.

Says Pakistan wants good relations with all countries, won’t join any single camp

Earlier on Thursday, PM Khan had admitted that he could not fulfil the promises he had made with the nation due to “faults” in the system.

During the question-answer session, the PM said his visit to China was very relevant with regard to the fast-changing global political map. He said the strategic direction of his government was very clear. He said they wanted to maintain relations with all and would not become a part of any camp.

Economic growth

During the last three and a half years, the government had navigated from ‘the minefield’ of economic challenges, the PM said, adding that due to the government’s prudent policies, the country was witnessing growth rate, record tax collections, revenue generation, and remittances which indicated that the country’s economy had been moving in the right direction.

Defending his decision of smart lockdown, Mr Khan said in the US, Germany, and France, people had been on the roads against lockdowns. “We are ahead of everyone as we have not only saved our economy but also the lives,” he boasted, adding that the growth rate in India had been negative.

Talking about corruption, the premier said in China, they had meritocracy and rule of law. About 400 ministerial-level people had been held accountable on corruption charges, he said, adding that it increased the popularity of President Xi.

No Islamophobia in Russia

Responding to another query, he said he had met Russian President Putin in Bishkek. After his tweet about the negative use of freedom of speech to hurt Muslims’ feelings, they held a telephonic conversation in which the Russian president conveyed that there was no Islamophobia in Russia and a central mosque in Moscow was fully functional.

Regarding Afghanistan, the PM said the international community had a consensus over the issue. Europe and all the neighbouring states of Afghanistan agreed to avoid humanitarian crises there and stressed upon de-freezing of Afghan’s assets. The US also understood and realized the situation. All had consensus that steps should be taken so that Afghanistan should not be descended into chaos, he added.

In reply to yet another query, the premier said that decision-making issues had surfaced after the 18th Amendment and cited the example of difference in prices of wheat in Sindh and Punjab.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2022

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