Economy put on track despite difficulties: PM

Imran thanks army for support; hails Saudi Arabia, UAE, China for timely assistance


Our Correspondent August 26, 2021
PM Imran addresses a ceremony in Islamabad. SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday the first three years of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) very difficult but stressed the national economy was put on right track despite various challenges, including the global coronavirus pandemic.

Addressing a ceremony at the Convention Centre in connection with the launching of the three-year performance of the PTI government, Imran thanked the army for support and mentioned the helping hand lent by friends of the country, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China.

Imran touched various topics in his wide-ranging speech, including the corruption of the past rulers and his plans for the futures, dotted with light moments such as the singing skills of Sindh governor Imran Ismail.

He said that opposition, which brought the country to a near bankruptcy in 2018, wanted that the army bring down his government. He added that “mafia” was giving speeches against the military but “special thanks to the Pakistan army for dealing with the difficulties”.

“It was difficult time, when I became the prime minister but I said there is no need to panic. Highs and lows are part of life, which means that we shouldn't be afraid of bad times, that is the way to become successful in life,” the prime minister told the audience, amid playing of PTI songs.

“When we took over the government, we didn't have the money to pay off the debt. If Saudi Arabia and China did not help us then, we would have faced a lot of difficulties. The value of our rupee fell further and we were forced to go to the IMF due to lack of money,” he added.

Also read: Peaceful Afghanistan vital for Pakistan and regional stability, Imran tells Putin

A year later, Imran said, when the country was about to get out of a difficult times the coronavirus pandemic struck the country. However, he added that the government handled the situation well, a received the praise from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In 2018, the prime minister said, the current accounts deficit had soared to $20 billion, which the present government brought to $1.8 billion. He mentioned that during that period the government initiated the process for building 10 dams and introduced single national curriculum.

Accountability

The prime minister said that youth of the country were the future of the nation. He also praised the overseas Pakistan, saying: “The biggest asset of our country is the Pakistanis living abroad, who are sending remittances from abroad.”

Imran said that $1,000 billion was stolen from poor countries and transferred to offshore accounts every year. “The country is destroyed when its prime minister and ministers start stealing. The rule of law is when the law is the same for everyone,” he added.

Continuing, he said that in 8 to 10 years of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government in Punjab, the provincial anti-corruption department recovered only Rs2.5 billion but in contrast, “during our three years, Rs450 billion was recovered in Punjab alone” from the corrupt.

Speaking about the government’s social sector initiatives, Imran mentioned that his government made efforts to ensure that women get a share in the property. “That is why; we started issuing inheritance certificates through NADRA [National Database and Registration Authority.”

Brave Afghans

During his speech, the prime minister also highlighted the ongoing situation in Afghanistan in the context of Pakistan’s foreign policy. He said that in the future, Pakistan would not allow the use of its soil against anyone.

“We allowed use of our land [in the US-led war in Afghanistan]. We sacrificed lives of 70,000 of our people. Our people were killed, our economy was destroyed, yet still we are being accused of the failure of the US in Afghanistan,” he said.

“America became our ally yet kept bombing us. America carried out 480 drone strikes in our country. The heirs of those killed in the drone strikes were, seeking revenge from the Pakistani government,” he continued. “We have decided not to allow the use of our land in the future.”

Imran said that the Afghan nation was a brave and fighting nation, adding that before the US the former Soviet Union also failed to occupy the country. In the current situation, he stressed the need for believing in the Taliban and “if the Taliban do not stick to their word, it will be seen at that time”.

“For the time being,” the prime minister repeated his call for the whole world to “must work for peace in Afghanistan”. Imran said that Europe “is only concerned about women in Afghanistan” but asked: “Has anyone ever come from abroad to give rights to women in a country?”

Earlier, the prime minister began his speech by welcoming "all our chief ministers, governors and the leaders of AJK [Azad Jammu and Kashmir]”. He also commended Sindh Governor Imran Ismail for singing the famous ‘Tabdeeli’ song.

Imran Khan recalled that Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, folk singer Attaullah Esakhailvi, Ibrarul Haq and many others played an important role in taking forward PTI. He also thanked the government allies, including PML-Quaid, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Grand Democratic Alliance for extending support to the PTI government during the last three years.

Before the speech, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry presented the PTI government’s three-year performance report to the prime minister. The report highlights the efforts and key achievements of the government for benefitting the people in line with the vision of Naya Pakistan.

Also read: PM Imran launches Pakistan's maiden smart forest initiative

The 251-page Report 2018-21, compiled by the Information Ministry, outlines the achievements of 44 public bodies, besides defining the baseline of each sector. It also focuses on key objectives, updates on initiatives, long-term strategies, legislative policy and the projects in the pipeline.

The PTI won the July 2018 general elections and formed the government in August. At the onset, the government faced numerous “inherited challenges”, including financial instability, poverty, and inadequate education and health facilities, the report said.

However, in three years, the government boasts of many achievements, particularly sustaining the Covid-19 situation and launching projects such as Naya Pakistan Housing Programme, Ehsaas programme for social security and the Kamyab Jawan Programme for youth.

In the domain of legislation, 54 laws were enacted including the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2020, Enforcement of Women Property Rights Act, 2020, and Legal Aid and Justice Authority Act, 2020 to help poor and vulnerable segments of society, the report said.

(With input from APP)

 

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