Can't thwart graft sans judiciary's help: PM

Imran cites examples of China and Malaysia on how they ended corruption, lifted economy


News Desk April 04, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan responds to the questions of the citizens in a live session on April 4, 2021. SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said he could not defeat corruption alone without the support of the judiciary.

Responding to the public's questions during a live broadcast session, the premier stressed the need for cohesive efforts by the society for the success of the jihad against corruption.

“A nation can fight corruption only through collective efforts. Imran Khan cannot fight it alone, the society as a whole has to fight it,” he added.

The premier maintained that the government had asked convicted PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif to submit a surety bond but the judiciary sent him abroad for medical treatment.

He said corruption had permeated in all the poor countries of world and had even shaken the economies of rich ones.

He referred to the steps taken by Mahathir Mohamad to lift the Malaysian economy.

PM Imran said the powerful elite had embezzled the national wealth by holding on to powerful offices and then resorted to money laundering as they could not hide such huge amounts in their respective countries.

According to a UN watchdog panel report, about $1 trillion from poor countries were being laundered to the rich countries or tax havens, he said.

He added that $7 trillion had been stashed away in rich countries.

“The [Pakistani] government is striving to get the laundered money back.”

China has sent 450 ministers to jail on corruption charges and in Singapore, a minister killed himself after he was arrested for corruption, he added.

The prime minister regretted that in Pakistan, corrupt elements were warmly welcomed back and showered with flower petals.

Expressing his resolve, the premier said: “We have to win this fight – the fight for the rule of law. It's vital for the country's survival."

He added that all corrupt elements had gathered on one platform to pull down the PTI government because it was not giving them an NRO (a deal to end graft cases).

The prime minister said the real issue was rule of law, which was firmly imposed by Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in the state of Madina.

The premier further said the government was trying to rein in inflation by going after cartels and mafias.

“The major reason behind the high inflation is this mafia that increases prices of essential commodities through hoarding,” he added.

PM Imran said the government had carried out an inquiry and was going to take action against the elements involved in the price hike of sugar and flour.

“The government is fully focused on controlling inflation.”

PM Imran said the government was going to introduce a “revolutionary agricultural policy” which would address the issue of demand and supply of food items and reduce the prices of essential items.

With the use of information technology, he added, we would be able to predict shortage of any commodity in time.

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To a query, the premier said the third wave of coronavirus was extremely dangerous in comparison with the previous two ones.

He asked citizens to strictly follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to protect themselves against Covid-19.

PM Imran warned that the government would be forced to impose major restrictions if citizens did not start adhering to the Covid-19 guidelines.

“I have noticed that people are not taking precautions while going out in public,” he added, pointing out that the government had not imposed lockdown or closed factories so far.

“We are only imposing minor restrictions so that this wave doesn't spread rapidly. But if this does, it will have a very negative impact and we will be forced to take steps,” he warned.

Responding to a caller regarding the increase in incidents of child sexual abuse, he said it was the direct result of the increase in immodesty in the country.

“Obscenity always has its impact on a society,” he added.

"Islam sets rules for modesty for a reason and it wants to protect women and the family system through its concept of morality," he maintained.

PM Imran added that when he saw the family system in the Europe in turmoil, he spoke to Turkish President Erdogan and brought the play Ertugrul to Pakistan.

He urged filmmakers to pay attention towards the issue and develop some content to counter the threat.

To a question, PM Imran replied that the government had retrieved land worth Rs450 million from illegal occupants in Punjab alone.

The government, he added, would not spare the powerful mafia, who had encroached upon its own lands and properties.

“The government has declared a war against them.”

A Lahore-based group of land grabbers had the backing of a political party, and even in past, the ministers and members of the parliament had gobbled the government's precious lands in Punjab, he added.

The mafia, the premier said, had also encroached upon the properties of overseas Pakistanis.

“A change could be brought through a consecutive struggle. There were two kinds of changes – a bloody revolution and a change through ballot,” he noted.

“The judiciary is completely independent as well as the NAB [National Accountability Bureau], which were previously controlled by the then governments,” he added.

Citing the Broadsheet Commission report, PM Imran said Justice (retd) Shaikh Azmat Saeed's findings had divulged that corrupt elements were protected in the scandal.

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"There is difference between a revolution and evolution. The latter will take time," he maintained.

The prime minister said his government had so far paid back $35,000 billion in debt, which the previous rulers had left behind.

“For the first time, a change is being felt and no one can stop it from happening, “ he claimed.

“The country in the past had only witnessed a two-party system. Now all of them stand on one platform, trying to get rid of Imran Khan's government. It is a change. The powerful, who always enjoyed privileged positions, are feeling it. My government will not spare anyone," he added.

Going after such elements, he said, had never been an easy task.

“Almost all developing countries are facing this ordeal. It is a kind of jihad we are waging.  It's a jihad when you protect the feeble segments of your society.”

The prime minister said in Punjab alone, it was detected that a whooping amount of Rs600 billion was circulated in the accounts of sugar bookies.

He expressed his surprise as to why his political rivals did not talk about these changes, how the government had stabilised the country, its economy and rupee. "Something is happening as all the economic indicators are positive even in this pandemic," he added.

The changes, he said, could be felt in the automobile and construction sectors.

“Such changes would lift the country. Even the tourism sector alone would help lift Pakistan economically,” he claimed.

“For the first time in the country's history, the current account had been in surplus for the last seven months.”

The prime minister said the first year of his government was a horrible one as the country was facing an imminent default.

To a query, PM Imran made it clear that he would not take any step to normalise relations with India until it restored Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir's (IIOJK) semi-autonomous status.

"Have faith in me, I will never take any measure that will undermine Kashmir," he maintained.

“We have fought Kashmir's case at every forum. The cabinet only contemplated importing sugar from India," he added.

Responding to the premier's remarks, Sharif's daughter, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz accused the ruling party of not fighting a jihad but stealing from the poor.

“Those who claim that this is the state of Madina, if it really were, you [PM Imran] would have reached your dreadful end by now,” she tweeted.

“Theft of flour, sugar, gas, votes and then this storm of price hike because of your incompetence. You call this jihad?”

She added that the prime minister and his  government don't go to jihad but to rob the people.

“You snatch bread from the mouths of the poor and medicine from the sick. You break the backs of the people with electricity and gas bills. You oppress the oppressed. You kidnap [people] and you call it jihad?”

Maryam further said a fatwa should be issued against PM Imran for killing the country's 220 million inhabitants alive and calling it jihad.

“Get out of your 300-kanal palace in Bani Gala and see how people are cursing you.” (With input from APP)

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