Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said that for the first time in the history of the country any government was working for the betterment of the poor but “the political mafia, cartels and those benefitting from the corrupt system are standing against us”.
“We will win this war [against corruption]. The government is fighting for establishing the rule of law and will soon emerge victorious in this battle for the soul and future of Pakistan,” the PM said in a televised speech delivered at the 25th foundation day of the ruling PTI.
He highlighted the priorities of his government, saying all corrupt elements, cartels and mafias which benefited from the corrupt system have ganged up against him.
Referring to his 25-year-long political struggle, he said the most difficult phase in his life came after his party came into power in July 2018. He said when he took up the reins; the country was at the brink of bankruptcy with a record deficit.
“The country’s debt had soared by four per cent during the previous governments; the foreign reserves had depleted and the current account deficit was hovering around 20 billion dollars.”
He expressed his gratitude to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and China which came to Pakistan’s rescue in those trying times. “The country survived with much difficulty,” he added.
The prime minister said he felt pride over his government’s performance in the first two and half years of its term. “Now the current account is in surplus and the country’s reserves are increasing with the rupee getting strength. People are getting confidence due to the economic growth,” he added.
The prime minister said now the construction sector was moving at a fast pace; cement sale was soaring, and the large-scale manufacturing and vehicles sale were on the rise.
“For the first time, farmers are happy with a government’s policies and are getting right prices for their yields including wheat and sugarcane.”
He said the government is focusing on wealth creation in the country with the construction of two ambitious projects – the Ravi River Urban Front City Lahore and Bundal Islands in Karachi.
“Through private-public partnership, billions of rupees will be invested in these two mega projects. The government is giving incentives to the small and large industry,” he said.
He said the tourism sector of the country possesses huge potential and the PTI government’s flagship 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project will also bring a revolution. “Two new big dams are being constructed in the country after a gap of 50,” he added.
The prime minister said his government has introduced health insurance in two provinces –Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. This initiative will encourage the private sector to compete in the health sector and even establish their infrastructures in the poor areas.
Imran said his government set up shelter homes for labourers. Under the government’s food on wheel programme, meal trucks will reach the poor areas, he said.
“The government has introduced affordable housing for the low-income group or those segments of society who had never dreamt of having their own home. We have changed the mortgage law due the banks were earlier reluctant to offer loans for construction of houses.”
He said the main objective behind formation of the PTI was the end the corruption of the ruling elite “which has been undermining the country”. “For the first time, a political party struggled against corruption,” he said.
He said a nation is not destroyed due to lack of resources, but due to corruption of the ruling elite that burdens the nation with foreign debt. “Against this backdrop, the PTI was formed whose motto was to hold people accountable for their corrupt practices so that justice may prevail in the society.”
Recalling his political struggle, he said during the first 15 years of the PTI, the party did not win a seat which made many leave the party and during the year 2002, few people were left in the party.
He said he never accepted defeat as he had learnt from his cricket career never to give in. “So, I succeeded in cricket and also in the construction of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital. If a person dreams, then he must burn all his boats to succeed,” he said.
Premier Imran said his government is going to introduce an electronic voting system before the 2023 general election – a mechanism that will bring an end to the allegations of rigging that are hurled at the winning party after every poll.
“We are introducing a state-of-the-art electronic voting system and will ensure free and fair elections in the country so that losing political parties couldn’t allege rigging,” the PM said.
Imran Khan’s PTI had accused the PML-N of massive rigging in the 2013 general election and later staged a 126-day-long marathon sit-in in Islamabad just one year after the polls.
However, when the PTI clinched majority after 2018 polls, almost all major parties expressed dissatisfaction with the election results with a few calling the PTI a “selected government” in an apparent reference to alleged involvement of the establishment in bringing it to power.
Referring to the 2013 elections, the premier said at that time, the PTI had demanded “opening a few constituencies” to address the PTI’s concerns but no action was taken for bringing election reforms. “But now we are introducing electronic voting technology systems for fair and transparent elections,” he said.
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