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Web Desk
June 30, 2020

PM Imran says India behind Pakistan Stock Exchange attack in Karachi


Web Desk
Tue, Jun 30, 2020

Prime Minister Imran Khan paid his respects to the martyrs of the Karachi attack, which included a police officer and two PSX security guards. — PID

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said Tuesday India was responsible for the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) attack in Karachi a day earlier and that it had planned to destablise the country.

Speaking in the National Assembly, PM Imran lauded the security forces for thwarting the attack, which he said could otherwise have been a major tragedy. "We have no doubt that India is behind the attack," he told the lower House of the parliament.

The prime minister paid his respects to the martyrs, among whom were a police officer and two PSX security guards, saying there were "Pakistan's heroes".

"The following names I'm reading out are Pakistan's heroes: Sub-inspector Shahid (shaheed) and three stock exchange security guards — Iftikhar, Khudayaar, Hasan Ali — and I am saddened to tell you that when Hasan Ali's sister heard of her brother's martyrdom, she had a heart attack and passed away.

"I'm paying tribute to them because our security forces made a huge sacrifice and fought [the terrorists] and a major tragedy planned by our neighbouring country, India, to destabilise our country was thwarted," he added.

Attempt to stage Mumbai-like attack

The prime minister said the four heavily-armed terrorists aimed to stage a hostage situation similar to the one that happened years ago in Mumbai when terrorists had attacked the Bombay Stock Exchange in 2008.

"They had planned to do exactly the same in the [Pakistan] Stock Exchange and murder innocent people to create an atmosphere of unstability [sic] and uncertainty. We have no doubts that this plan was made by India.

"My cabinet knew for the last two months [that there would be an attack and] I had informed my ministers. All our agencies were on high alert," he added. 

"Our intelligence agencies had preempted four major terrorism attempts beforehand and two of them were near Islamabad," the premier added.

In yesterday's attack on the stock exchange in Pakistan's financial capital, security forces had killed all four terrorists in retaliatory response after they opened indiscriminate fire.

"We were fully prepared and I thank God — because no matter how much you're prepared, you cannot fully stop it, we all know that the world's most powerful armies and agencies cannot such attacks — but this was a major victory for our nation.

"Apart from the martyrs, I also wish to pay tribute to our intelligence agencies," he added.

Separately, PM Imran also expressed his gratitude to the women lawmakers, citing NA Chief Whip Malik Muhammad Aamir Dogar's account.

"I especially wish to thank our women [lawmakers] because Chief Whip Aamir Dogar gave me full information about how our women in the entire National Assembly gained as compared to the first year, how they learned, and their performance and improvements.

"So I wish to pay tribute to them all. I also thank the minorities for their participation with us," he added.

'Woes of poor'

Speaking on the recently-passed budget, the premier thanked his allies and said there was a lot of speculation about it. "Someone watching TV a night before the budget [was presented] would have thought those were the last days of the government."

He said the coronavirus had affected economies around the world and this year's federal budget turned out to be quite an uphill task for the government.

"We had to accumulate Rs5 trillion rupees initially but because of the virus our accumulation dropped down to Rs3 trillion," he told the NA, referring to the revenue target.

The prime minister added that the government could not incur the losses caused by the "unprecedented" pandemic. He explained that despite the criticism, his leadership had reopened the construction sector and imposed a 'smart' lockdown in areas with a surge in the coronavirus cases.

"We were not the ones suffering from confusion but those who are not familiar with the woes of poor," he said.

The premier said the country's future lay in industrialisation but the desired economic results could not be obtained until "the cartels such as sugar mill mafia" kept on reaping profits through illicit means.

PM Imran said the regulators, as well as the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR), had a duty to keep things in check but were also complicit in such matters. "It is our duty to rein in this mafia under the law,” he told the lawmakers.

'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times'

The prime minister said the devastation from the coronavirus pandemic was not over yet and the small- and medium-scale industries around the world had taken the biggest hit during the ongoing crisis.

"Although we cannot exactly make a forecast about our tax collection in the coming years, [Industries and Production Minister] Hammad Azhar has come up with commendable policies and a financial plan," said the premier.

Quoting Charles Dickens' historic opening line from A Tale of Two Cities, PM Imran said: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Building up on the notion, he said Pakistan had to make the best of these times by calculated and effective measures. He, however, lamented that his regime had inherited all sectors — such as power, agriculture, steel mills, import and export — in a dismal condition from the former governments.

The premier said the country could not prosper until reforms were brought in these sectors, particularly the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).

"For example PIA, which was known for its services around the world, has changed 10 executives in the past 11 years due to the corruption and incapability of the institution," said the prime minister.