Prime Minister’s Imran Khan maiden address to the nation, broadcast last night, was itself as an ocean in the glass. He touched upon the basic problems confronting the people; economic challenges faced by the country, and realistic optimism to overcome these challenges. Every word of it was flowing out from the core of his heart. Never ever in the history of Pakistan there has been a leader who is genuinely concerned about the prosperity of common man. Every bit of his address touched the hearts and souls of the down trodden. He was very objective and there was no element of hollow promises which has been the dominant attribute of Pakistani traditional politicians including Z.A Bhutto, who apparently spoke for the poor people but protected the interest of oppressive feudal class.
The implementation of road map outlined for austerity in government’s non productive spending will save billions of rupees. In 2017-18 the extravagance in discretionary spending reached the mark of Rs. 130 billion, a merciless and criminal waste of tax payers’ money. The collection of tax from wealthy people, who are still out of the tax net despite their available data with FBR since 2010, will be a big step towards achieving self reliance.
The total amount of debt at the end of PPP government from 2008 to 2013 was Rs. 6000 thousand billions which reached to the unsustainable level of Rs. 28000 billion in the last PML-N government. Foreign debt swelled to $ 95 billion. Human Development Index is 0.5 percent as per UNDP report. The rate of stunted growth in children is 45 percent because of male nutrition. Human resource development was deliberately neglected and 20.5 million children are out of schools.
The Prime Minister has promised to bring laundered money back to Pakistan. Tightening of global fiscal laws has created conducive environment for the retrieval of looted money that has been invested in offshore accounts and real estate. Financial Crimes Act enforced in September, 2017 in the UK and the World Bank’s Stolen Assets Recovery (STAR) programme can help the government in bringing the laundered money back. By plugging the lope holes in the anti-money laundering laws will be instrumental in eradicating the scourge the corruption and stashing away the ill gotten wealth abroad, which is Rs. 1000 billion annually. The Prime Minister has announced the formation of a high powered task force for retrieving the looted wealth of Pakistan from abroad.
The Prime Minister has expressed a firm resolve that rooting out corruption will be a high priority of his government and promised to strengthen institutions like National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to ensure that action is taken against people who are involved in corruption. “I will meet Chairman NAB and facilitate what ever he needs in terms of human resource and financial assistance,” he said. The Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Federal Investigation Agency will be fixed on priority. It is pertinent to mention how boldly former Chairman SECP Zafar Hijazi started a process of tampering record in favour of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. This time the accountability process will be strict and across the board as compared with the farce and selective approach in the government of President Musharraf.
Actions speak louder than words. Former NAB deputy Prosecutor General Mirza Shazad Akbar has been appointed as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister. This is the first time that a Prime Minister has appointed a Special Assistant on Accountability. Akbar’s appointment is in line with the Prime Minister’s commitment to strengthen check and balance system in the country. He has spoken at length about his ambition to root out corruption by strict accountability laws.
The one window operation facility at the Prime Minister’s office will ensure investment by overseas Pakistanis and foreign companies. By making the Agriculture Research Centers fully functional will enable the farmers to get high yield variety of seeds at nominal cost as they cannot afford to buy the expensive genetically modified imported seeds. Reduction in the prices of other inputs like fertilizers and pesticides and training of farmers in water conservation methods will give a big boost to the production of different crops. The Prime Minister has assured the bureaucracy of tenure protection and no political interference in their working. Now it is incumbent upon them to extend whole hearted and unflinching support to the Prime Minister to achieve the goal of new and prosperous Pakistan.