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Web Desk
December 4, 2018

Watch Imran Khan's first interview after becoming Prime Minister of Pakistan


Web Desk
Tue, Dec 04, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) government had successfully set the future direction for the accomplishment of its economic and administrative policies under its 100 Days Agenda and its effects would be felt by the countrymen soon.

The prime minister assured the nation that the economic indicators of the country would flourish in the coming days, strengthening the rupee against US dollar, with diverse investment by the foreign investors.

During an interaction with a number of senior anchorpersons from different news channels, he maintained that plummeting of Pak rupee against US dollar was a temporary phase and adjustment done by the State Bank of Pakistan, which would be over soon.

There would be no shortage in the flow of dollars in shape of foreign investment soon.

The reason could be attributed to demand and supply of the dollar and the public speculations in the market which added to the rupee’s depreciation, he added.

He said the government was making efforts to make the institutions autonomous, so that they could take their decisions strictly in accordance with laws and referred to the step taken by the SBP.

He said the government wanted that the institutions should be autonomous to deliver on their targets.

The step was also taken to secure the foreign exchange reserves of the country and control the fiscal deficit, whereas, the previous government invested 7 billion dollars to artificially keep the price of rupee afloat, he added.

The prime minister said the PTI government had inherited mutli-dimensional challenges left behind by the previous regimes, including massive fiscal deficit of 19 billion dollars.

He said due to the PTI government’s efforts for the economic turnaround, the increase in the exports and remittances through legal channels was being witnessed.

The foreign companies were eyeing huge investment in diverse fields, he said, referring to the investment of Exxon Mobil, Pepsi and Coca colas, besides upcoming Chinese investment.

The prime minister said China had attracted investment by creating export zones and the PTI government was emulating the same model in Pakistan.

He said the government was also tightening the noose around money launderers with strict laws as reportedly the money laundering volume from the country amounted to 10 billion dollars per annum.

The prime minister said the government was also tightening the noose around money launderers with strict legislation as reportedly the money laundering figures from the country per year had amounted to 10 billion dollar.

About removal of censorship on state-owned PTV, the prime minister maintained that the PTI government wanted transparency on all issues.

"The censorship was imposed with intentions; if you had fears and wanted to hide information from the public.

“Here lies the difference between the democracy and dictatorship,” he said, adding the government wanted to be transparent on all fronts, which was unprecedented.

The government desired the media and the parliament to keep check on the functioning and performance of the ministers, so that they could be made accountable to the public.

The prime minister said his cabinet members had submitted their performance reports to him and he would take decisions after going through them.

Within 10 to 12 days, he would be in a position to apprise the media about any decision on reshuffling of the federal cabinet in the light of the performance reports, he added.

None of the government inherited such issues, including fiscal deficit, the prime minister said and defended the 100 Days Agenda of the PTI government, saying it would also focus to rid the countrymen of the elitist system whether in education, health, legal or jobs opportunities.

In the past, the system was an eschewed one for the poor segments of the society, he said, adding the reforms were being introduced in the government-run hospitals with issuance of the health cards for the poor, besides, legislation being done for provision of the legal assistance to them.

The prime minister to a query, defended his proposal over poultry breed to counter poverty in the rural areas and referred to Bill Gates and the United States with huge reliance on its production.

He said throughout the world the Halal meat trade volume touched 2,000 billion dollars per annum.

Imran Khan mentioned the multi-crises created by the previous rulers, saying all the institutions in the country were running in losses, including the Pakistan International Airlines and Railways.

The former government left behind Rs 1,200 billion circular debt.

The PTI government would follow the models of Singapore and Malaysia by putting all the loss-making institutions under a holding company to improve their functioning, he added.

The prime minister said that he had never interfered in the functioning of institutions and cited the issue of his residence regularization by the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

Such thing had never happened in the past.

To another query, he replied he had neither interfered in Azam Swati’s issue nor in the JIT’s report and assured that the Supreme Court’s decision over the issue would be implemented.

About panic among the business community, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the PTI government had introduced ease of doing business policy in the country for the first time and assured one window operation facility for all the local and foreign investors.

“We are trying to create easiness for the business community and investors in Pakistan and hope we will succeed in our efforts,” he added.

He said after the 1970s, an anti-investors culture was introduced in the country and the de-industrialization policy had reversed all the things.

He said the Federal Board of Revenue had been bifurcated into two departments and its job would be just collection of tax while policy would be formulated by the ministries of finance and commerce.

About the go-slow policy of bureaucracy, the prime minister said anti-corruption programme was not his invention.

The nation would decide either “we should go with corruption or not".

Eradication of corruption was a must for the future of Pakistan, he added.

He said those bureaucrats, who were earning money from the corrupt system, were sabotaging the government’s initiatives and pursuing the go-slow policy.

The bureaucrats, who were creating hurdles for the government, would be changed, he warned.

The prime minister said if NAB were under his control then at least 50 to 60 big corrupt persons would have been behind the bar.

The opposition was crying about the failure of the government from the first day, he said, adding the cases against the big tycoons were not registered by the present government but were done before the PTI came into power.

He said the government had inked agreements with 26 countries for exchange of information about money laundering and the data it had received so far showed $11 billion accounts of various Pakistanis abroad.

The interesting thing, he said, was that the authorities in the UAE and Saudi Arabia were not providing information regarding the Aqama-holders.

It transpired as to why some people were Aqama holders of the two countries because they were involved in money laundering, he added.

He said an agreement with Switzerland had also been signed and now the government would get information about the bank accounts of Pakistanis from there.

Billions of dollars of the looted money were kept abroad and now the government was getting information in that regard.

The prime minister assured the media persons that there would be no problems of balance of payment to the country as dollars were pouring in to Pakistan.

Some dollars would pour into the country due to improvement in the governance system while the rest would come from the looted money, he added.

About tense relations with the opposition, the prime minister said their demand for appointment of Shehbaz Sharif as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee was illogical as it would be a joke for the country and the parliament.

The opposition could not blackmail the government through such tactics, he said, adding the country was looted in the name of Charter of Democracy during the last 10 years but they were now crying that democracy was in danger.

He said the government had met the opposition's demand of formation of a parliamentary committee regarding rigging in the election.

He said owing to the plundering of past governments, all the institutions were in losses while the country’s loans had reached Rs 30 trillion.

The prime minister defended Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, saying the province had not got such a chief minister, who was easily accessible to the people.

He said being a prime minister, he did not interfere in the affairs of any department.

About the fate of Minister for Science and Technology Azam Khan Swati, he said the government would implement the Supreme Court's decision in his regard.

If Swati was found guilty he would himself resign and the government would not interfere into it.

He, however, added that no powerful person being in power had never been interrogated in Pakistan earlier.

About US President Donald Trump's letter to him, the prime minister said the US president had asked Pakistan to play its part in the resolution of the Afghan issue through peace process.

He said he had always called that the Afghan issue would be resolved through talks not through use of force.

Its resolution was not only in the interest of Afghanistan and Pakistan but also for the entire region.

The prime minister to a question responded that taking U-turns in the political arena was considered a sign of pragmatism, which was practiced worldwide by the political leaders.

Cite a single precedent in which the world leaders had not taken U-turns, he asked.

About forging alliance with the MQM and the PML-Q, he maintained that strategies could be changed without making compromises on the objectives.

He said they wanted all to be accountable before the country’s laws and no one would be treated as a sacred cow.

Ruling out any prospect of alliance with the PPP or the PML-N, he said it could divert them from their set targets of zero corruption.

About the role of establishment, Imran Khan said seeking their advice on security related issues was must and it was a common practice throughout the world.

He said, “The Army fully backs the democratic government and is standing with it."

"I obviously take all the decisions,” he emphasized.

About ties between India and Pakistan, the prime minister said both the countries had two options, either to go for dialogue or to go for war; the latter was impossible as it would have unintended consequences, whereas the proxy war launched by India would not yield results.

He said the Government of Pakistan had taken peace initiatives, including opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, and offered the Indian government to hold dialogue with it to resolve all the issues, including Kashmir.

He referred to his meeting with former Indian premier Vajpayee, who had told him that he and Musharraf had reached closely to the resolution of the Kashmir issue.

So far, the Indian political government was whipping up an anti-Pakistan rhetoric campaign due to the upcoming elections, he added.

About JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PML-N leadership's recent stance on Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s arrest, the prime minister regretted that it was a manifestation of their shared opportunism.

Maulana Fazl’s political career had been in jeopardy and he would go to any extent for safeguarding his political interests, he added.

The prime minister said in the past, they had made efforts to engage the TLP leadership in all possible ways and regretted that religious sentiments were used for political mileage.

The government took effective initiatives at all the international forums over the issue of freedom of expression, including the United Nations, and referred to a decision of the European Union Court in that regard.

The prime minister said the government would be introducing the legal reforms, including the time frame of one and a half years for decisions in the civil cases, besides the whistle blower act, legal aid assistance for the poor and insertion of special legal provisions for the women and widows.

The political parties, which would oppose the legislation in that regard in the parliament, would expose themselves before the public, he added.

The prime minister, to the issue of South Punjab province, said all the stakeholders would be taken on board as there were demands to facilitate the residents of those areas through better administration.

About the performance of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, he expressed the confidence that Buzdar would soon prove himself as ‘Wasim Akram plus’.

The prime minister said agreements were being reached with the foreign governments over money laundering issues and unearthing the stashing of illegal assets abroad.

About Musharraf’s treason case, he said he had not gone through the case so far.

He maintained that the government was prioritizing different issues, including the Rs 30 trillion debt burden and assured that they would make all those people accountable who had added to the economic woes.

All the corrupt elements would soon land in jails, he added.

About the demolition of boundary walls of the Governor House in Lahore, he said it was being done to remove distance between the rulers and the common man, declaring that all the colonial symbols would be eliminated.

The PM House would be converted into a state of the art university, he added.

About PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari’s claims, the prime minister said he must be afraid of the performance and functioning of the PTI government.

To a question, he said the government did not immediately seek bailout from the International Monetary Fund due to its tough conditions which could have increased poverty.

Instead, the government tried to manage it with the support of the friendly countries, he added.