PM Imran challenges media, economists and opposition parties to debate with govt over performance

Published March 15, 2022
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the Pakistan Overseas Convention in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the Pakistan Overseas Convention in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday challenged media organisations, economists and opposition parties to debate with the government over its performance in the last 3.5 years, saying that "nobody served Pakistan like we did".

Addressing the Pakistan Overseas Convention in Islamabad, he said the opposition parties had been taking turns in governing Pakistan during the last 30 years but the PTI government would "prove" that it had brought improvements which no other party had.

"I challenge the entire opposition to compete with us in anything. We are ahead of you ... our government tried for the first time to elevate the lower class, there were no attempts in the past.

"[Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana] Fazlur Rehman sold religion for 30 years," he thundered. "In my 3.5 years, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has said you cannot disrespect Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in the name of freedom of expression. [Canadian Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau has given a statement [against Islamophobia]. This has happened for the first time."

The premier said there had been a debate at the United Nations and a resolution would be passed against Islamophobia, adding that it was "because of us" and how the government raised the matter at different forums.

'Thankful' to opposition for no-trust move

Terming opposition politicians — JUI-F chief Rehman, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari — "three stooges", he quipped that he was thankful to them for filing a no-trust motion against him that had "lifted my party".

The premier shared that he told party members the opposition's no-trust move was a "blessing" as it had "lifted" the entire party and now "everyone" was heading to the capital for the PTI's rally at D-Chowk on March 27.

"I was thinking of how the country changed suddenly in 10 days, inflation was forgotten and my entire party was lifted."

All the opposition politicians used to call each other corrupt, he said, thanking them for coming together so the nation could see that "if they are the ones to save Pakistan, it is better to drown with Imran Khan".

The premier said that PTI had risen from the grassroots which is why the opposition parties could not compete with it.

"This is a difficult time and people are facing difficulties due to inflation but they (the opposition) misunderstood and thought people had forgotten about their corruption and they fell into the captain's trap," he said, asserting that the opposition would "fail" not only in making the no-confidence resolution successful but also in the upcoming general elections.

Addressing overseas Pakistanis, he said he was aware of their difficulties and contributions, adding that they were also "pained" when they see their country is not progressing and its leaders are instead looting money and building palaces in London.

Prime Minister Imran then again criticised the opposition, alleging that they were afraid of angering the West and losing their looted money the same way that Russian oligarchs were — referring to sanctions imposed by Western countries on assets of Russian citizens following the invasion of Ukraine.

"You saw the Pakistani prime minister sitting before [former United States president Barack] Obama and kanpain taang rahi hain. They are afraid of angering the West ... because they know [those countries] can catch their money laundering whenever they want."

'Not anti-America, anti-India'

The premier said 100 drone strikes had been conducted in Pakistan during the governments of Nawaz Sharif and Zardari and PTI leaders had staged sit-ins to protest but "they had no shame".

"You (Nawaz and Zardari) should have at least said that no law in the world allows anyone to play the role of judge, jury and executioner," he said, stressing "never have I been anti-America, anti-Britain, anti-India".

Only an uneducated man would be against a country, he elaborated, adding that he was against their policies. "I was against the war on terror from day one and I will remain so."

He also mentioned India's "Hindutva" policy, expressing the wish that a "better government" comes to power in the neighbouring country that would grant rights to Kashmiris.

Overseas Pakistanis

The premier said the government had given overseas Pakistanis the right to vote because they were an "asset", adding that they should also contest elections and participate in the country's politics because the country was "running on their remittances".

"I have told my missions and ambassadors to make life easier for overseas Pakistanis," he said.

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