ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Saturday said corruption was the biggest problem for the country, and his government would support the judiciary and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for convicting the corrupt politicians.
Speaking in the National Assembly after winning the vote of confidence, he said, “The society has to fight against corruption and decide it will not allow corruption. We have to raise our moral standards to fight the menace, and create a fair and just society.”
The prime minister sought the support of society in the fight against corruption to save the future generations from the corrupt politicians, who had been looting the country for the last 30 years.
He said Pakistan was not made for the billionaires like Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari. The latter was known as a corrupt person and the former was declared a proclaimed offender after he left the country after looting the public wealth.
Nawaz Sharif, who went abroad on medical grounds, was now making political plans and delivering speeches from there, he added.
Imran Khan said both Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, while in government, plundered the public money and took the country’s debt from Rs 6,000 billion to Rs 30,000 billion.
The corruption cases against the two persons were made in the previous regimes, he remarked.
He said Yousaf Raza Gilani (as prime minister) refused to write a letter to the Swiss authorities on the court’s orders for the recovery of $ 60 billion stashed in the bank accounts of Switzerland. Now the thieves and corrupt elements were trying to put pressure on him to get an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance), but he would continue his fight against them, he stated.
The prime minister thanked his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and allies for their support. The PTI would emerge more strong after the present difficult time, he added.
Imran Khan said the two opposition parties were led by the princes, who had never earned their livelihoods. He said the people refused to come out on the roads in Lahore on the call of the opposition parties, which only wanted to save the looted public wealth.
The prime minister pointed out that the assets of Yousaf Raza Gilani had increased disproportionately during his term as prime minister. Gilani was a corrupt person and his assets should be reviewed, he remarked.
Imran Khan urged the Election Commission to take a secret briefing from the intelligence agencies so that it could know as to how much money was used in the Senate elections.
He knew for the last one month that money was being used for the Senate seats and now he was amazed to hear that the Election Commission was saying that it held a good Senate election, he added. “If this is a good election then what is a bad election.”
The prime minister said the opposition parties agreed to open ballot in the elections when they had signed the Charter of Democracy but then they backtracked.
Blaming the opposition parties for all ills of the country, he said in their decade of ‘darkness’ (government tenures), they had destroyed the institutions, piled a record current account deficit and budget deficit, and signed expensive power and gas contracts.
“Even if I am left alone I will fight against these corrupt elements. I am a captain and I fought till the last ball and I will fight till the last ball.”
Imran Khan recalled that the Pakistan Steel Mills was a profitable institution but during the government of Zardari it had incurred a loss of Rs 8 billion.
He said the opposition leaders worked abroad and used their jobs to launder money.
The sons of Nawaz Sharif had billions of dollars worth properties in the United Kingdom and they even refused to be called Pakistani citizens, he added.
The prime minister said the country’s debt was a symptom of the disease of corruption. That disease destroyed the nation morally, which led to an economic disaster, he commented.
“Tell me of one country which is poor despite having high moral standards. There is no country, which is prosperous under a corrupt leadership.”
The prime minister said Pakistan was in the grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) during the regime of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
“When we were trying to bring the FATF related legislation, the opposition tried to get passed 34 amendments in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAB),” he added.
Imran Khan said, “We should never forget as to why Pakistan was created. Making of Pakistan was a dream of Allama Iqbal, who had envisioned a welfare state.”
He said he had instructed that the secondary school students should be taught about the life of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in the Riyasat-e- Madina.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH), he said, set a new path for the humanity with his character and high moral standards, and despite the limited military resources, Islam successfully spread in the world due to human and moral values espoused by it. The Holy Quran stressed on following the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), he added.
The prime minister said Islam built a great legacy and civilization, made great strides in the fields of science, reformed societies, and set new moral standards.
He said at present Pakistan had gained economic stability as the rupee was stable despite the coronavirus pandemic. “The problem is that half of the government’s revenue is being spent on paying off loans. Our next challenge is to increase economic growth through exports,” he said, adding the overseas Pakistanis had sent record foreign remittances.
Imran Khan assured that the government was focused on bringing investment as record number of companies had been registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).
However, he said, the expensive power agreements were a problem for the government. If electricity rates would be increased it would add to financial difficulties of the people and cause further price hikes, and if they were kept at the present rate it would hike the circular debt.
The government in its new agreement with the Independent Power Producers, he said, would save public money and stop the rise in circular debt.
The prime minister said inflation was a major issue and the reason for price hikes was the devaluing of rupee against the dollar which went up from Rs 107 to Rs 160.
The government, however, was focused on bringing down prices and it signed a cheaper contract for gas to facilitate the citizens.
“We are trying our best to lessen the burden of price hikes on the common man. We will initiate new programmes and give direct financial assistance to the poor people through the Ehsaas Programme. We will introduce a programme to ensure that nobody in the country sleeps hungry. We have chosen areas for opening of kitchens to provide food to the poor people.”
Imran Khan said all citizens in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were given health insurance cards while the same would be given to the whole of Punjab by the end of current year. Every person would have an insurance of Rs 1 million to get medical treatment in any hospital. The government would provide all basic facilities to the citizens, he vowed.
The focus, he added, would also be on improving agriculture and conditions of farmers by launching of new schemes.
Mega projects like the Ravi Urban Development Project and commercial district in Lahore, and Bundle islands in Sindh would generate economic activity, protect the environment and create wealth to pay off the debts.
Two mega Bhasha and Mohmand dams would be constructed with the aim to boost the economy, he added.
Imran Khan said with the help of China, the government would hike the agriculture yield, and utilize talent and potential of the young population by equipping them with technology and skills.
He said electoral reforms and electronic voting machines would be introduced to ensure transparency in the elections and give overseas Pakistanis the right to vote. He appreciated the team led by Minister for Planning Asad Umar for effectively tackling the coronavirus pandemic.