Can't revive ties with India at cost of Kashmiris’ blood: PM

Premier Imran says growth rate of nearly 4% has baffled opposition

Our Correspondent May 30, 2021

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said if the country revived its relations with New Delhi without the latter giving Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) its rightful status back, it would be a major “betrayal” with the people of the region.

“We cannot improve our trade with New Delhi at the cost of the blood of the Kashmiris spilt by the Indian forces,” he added while speaking during a two-hour-long live telephonic session.

“However, if they [India] go back to the August 5 state [regarding Kashmir] then we can talk to them… we stand by the Kashmiris and we are aware of their sacrifices.”

He noted that in the model of IIOJK, Palestine's demography has also been changed through illegal settlements.

He added that the only resolution to the Palestine issue was a two-state solution and global awareness would ensure that.

The premier maintained that the opposition parties were complaining about the government misleading the nation on economy as they had not expected it to achieve a growth rate of nearly 4%.

“The economic growth rate has baffled political opponents who wanted the government to fail in meeting these challenges left behind by our predecessors,” he added.

The premier said the country’s projected growth rate at more than 4% would spur economic activities in the country, providing job opportunities and reducing price hike.

“Pakistan will continue to achieve economic growth in the days to come as a process is gradual and will take time,” he claimed.

"The Almighty has passed us successfully from a difficult phase and now the country will continue to progress in the same way.”

PM Imran further said no one thought that the government would achieve the growth rate of nearly 4%. “In fact, according to several independent experts, we may even surpass this growth rate.”

The premier said his government had inherited historic problems, with the current account deficit and burden of loans.

He said how the government had steered the boat out of these difficulties was a crucial phase.

“There are two problems: price hike and unemployment, but when the wheel of economy moves on and the growth rate increases, people would get employment, reducing their poverty.”

The prime minister lauded the performance of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

He said the tax collection of over Rs40 trillion by the FBR was a historic one.

He added that the automation system would be fully introduced. In the past, he claimed, it was resisted by the people taking benefits from the corrupt regime and they did not want it to be in place.

“The track and trace system will also help the system to function smoothly, besides enhancing the tax collection.”

The premier said during the coronavirus pandemic, the government’s “successful” strategy saved public lives and their livelihood.

The premier pledged to take action against those involved in the Rawalpindi Ring Road (RRR) realignment scam, saying the inquiry into the scandal would be completed in a period of two weeks.

“Someone informed me about the wrongdoing in the project and after an inquiry, it has emerged that the alignment of the road was done to benefit the powerful,” he added.

The premier assured the nation that after two weeks the inquiry report would be completed and subsequently the culprits would be taken to task.

His statement came days after his top aide Zulfikar Bukhari stepped down and Federal Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar cried foul after the national graft-buster decided to open an inquiry into the alleged anomalies in the multimillion-dollar infrastructure project in Rawalpindi in which the pair have been named.

The alignment of the 65-kilometre RRR was illegally changed this year to benefit several private housing projects, according to fact-finding reports which were commissioned to find out alleged illegalities, corruption and conflict of interest in the project.

The real estate developers who allegedly benefited from the RRR realignment included Nova City, Capital Smart City, New Airport City/Al Asif Housing, Top City, SAS Developers, Blue World and Islamabad Capital Housing Society.

“Ring Road Project is a very important project for the development of the city and work on it will be started immediately,” the premier added.

To a question, the premier said the opposition alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), could never succeed in its plan as “they had only come together to rid themselves of the corruption cases registered against them”.

“If they stood for the nation, then considering the difficult circumstances the nation has been through, they would have toppled us…. But they [PDM] have their personal interests and they think that people will agree to their notion again,” he added.

“The people, who had been roaming on bicycles, are now living in palatial houses in London where even a British premier cannot afford to live.”

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