Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Islamabad will not resume talks with New Delhi until it restores the special status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
"Unless India reverts its August 5, 2019 action, Pakistan will not hold talks," Premier Imran said while responding to a caller on ‘Apka Wazir-e-Azam Apke Sath’ programme during which he took telephone calls from citizens.
By repealing Article 370 of the Constitution, people from the rest of India obtained the right to acquire property in IIOJK and settle there permanently.
Kashmiris as well as critics of the Hindu nationalist-led government termed the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.
Article 370 had limited the power of the Indian parliament to impose laws in the occupied valley, apart from matters of defence, foreign affairs and communications.
PM Imran’s comments during the programme came days after Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said that Saudi Arabia will work to encourage reduction in tension between Pakistan and India.
"On [the] relationship with India, I really want to commend [on] what has been achieved recently of a calming of tensions and a ceasefire. This is an excellent step in the right direction," Prince Faisal said.
His remarks came during an interview telecast live on Radio Pakistan.
Last month, the United Arab Emirates' envoy to Washington confirmed the Gulf state is mediating between Pakistan and India to help the nuclear-armed rivals reach a "healthy and functional" relationship.
Top intelligence officers from Pakistan and India held secret talks in Dubai in January in a new effort to calm military tension over the 74-year-old Kashmir dispute, people with close knowledge of the matter had told Reuters.
Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba said in a virtual discussion with Stanford University's Hoover Institution that the UAE played a role "in bringing Kashmir escalation down and created a ceasefire, hopefully ultimately leading to restoring diplomats and getting the relationship back to a healthy level".
On Tuesday during the programme, Imran said the Hindu supremacist ideology of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of India was being condemned at the international level.
He lauded the role of the Foreign Office in leading a full-fledged campaign to highlight the Kashmir issue globally.
Sugar mafia and corruption
The prime minister dismissed the impression that any injustice was meted out to estranged PTI leader Jahangir Tareen, pledging that those who are involved in the price hike of sugar would be punished.
“It’s my prime goal to make Pakistan a great nation by making the corrupt and powerful mafia accountable before the law,” Premier Imran said while responding to a caller.
"To make the powerful accountable before the law is a jihad,” PM Imran said. “We will make the corrupt political leaders and mafias surrender before the rule of law.
“By increasing the price of sugar by Re1 per kilo, the sugar mafia extorted Rs5 billion from the pockets of masses.”
Imran vowed to uphold the supremacy of law and justice to make Pakistan great. A nation, he said, could not become strong unless it empowered its weaker segments, and that was the reason he had joined politics and named his political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
"I am answerable to Almighty Allah. How can I put the poor in jails and set the powerful free?" he asked.
He said the government was firm to ensure socio-economic justice in the country. "We are nearing our destination and I will fight these mafias and win."
The prime minister said a nation whose leaders and prime ministers stole money could not prosper as it resulted in weakening of the country's economy.
He mentioned that the UN High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity revealed that some $1,000 billion was illegally transferred from poor to rich countries annually.
Imran asked the public to report cases of illegal land grabbing directly to him, mentioning that the government had cleared 21,000 acres of land worth Rs27 billion from such mafia.
He recalled that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Maryam Nawaz sided with a land grabber when the government cleared the state land from his illegal occupation after thorough investigation into the records.
He said the land laws had been reformed in Islamabad and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to settle the litigation issues within one year, and assured that delay in that regard in Punjab would also be taken into consideration.
The prime minister said his government did not interfere with the working of judiciary and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as it wanted the rule of law in its true spirit.
Imran said cartels and monopoly as witnessed in the case of sugar mills resulted in inflation. The appointment of Shaukat Tarin as finance minister aimed at controlling inflation and increasing the growth rate, he added.
On petroleum prices, he said the government had kept the rates lower as compared to India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China, the United States, Turkey, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Bhutan in a bid to avoid burden on consumers.
Worldwide, he said, the prices of commodities went up during the pandemic, including gas by 60%, food 29%, metal 41%, crude oil 84%, cotton 44%, palm oil 54.8%, soya bean oil 36.6% and sugar 14.5%.
According to a Bloomberg report on food inflation and agricultural sub-index, Pakistan still kept the prices low, he added.
Imran appealed to the nation to fully follow precautions to contain the spread of the third wave of coronavirus, particularly during the Eidul Fitr holidays.
"I request you to follow the standard operating procedures and particularly use face masks. Take care of your elders to avoid lockdown," he said.
To a question on reduction in timings at bazaars that led to more crowd, he said the schedule could be reviewed in consultation with the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).
He said Pakistan was working on producing its own Covid-19 vaccine and "good news in this regard is in the offing".
Portal for expats
Imran announced the establishment of a dedicated portal for overseas Pakistanis to be headed by the foreign minister, where complaints could be lodged directly if an embassy or foreign mission did not respond to their pleas.
He said the portal would be advertised soon where a special officer would be working under the foreign minister as a focal person to deal with the complaints.
He mentioned that the Foreign Office was working well in the area of diplomacy. The government was focusing on two areas – consular services and attracting foreign investment.
He, however, admitted that his recent interaction with diplomats deployed at missions abroad, where he had pointed out the shortcomings, should not have gone on air.
Border markets with Iran, Afghanistan
The prime minister said smuggling was a big problem at the borders with Iran and Afghanistan. The smuggling of Iranian petrol, which was earlier causing a huge financial loss, had been completely stopped at the border, he added.
He said the establishment of markets at both borders would encourage the traders to get involved in economic activity and refrain from smuggling.
Responding to a caller, who complained to the prime minister of leaving Karachi at the mercy of the provincial government, Imran said following the 18th Constitutional Amendment, around 57% of resources were directly going to the provinces.
The federal government, however, was ready to provide assistance to the province, he said, announcing that a Sindh package had been prepared for its development.
Clean and green environment
The prime minister said for the first time in the country's history, a government has taken steps for a clean and green environment.
He mentioned the plantation of one billion trees in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the launch of Miyawaki method for urban forestation, which, he said, were steps for saving the future generations.
To tap the immense potential of Pakistan's natural beauty, he said, 20 new tourist destinations were being prepared.
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