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Govt, army on same page for first time: Imran

"This is the first setup where the Army is standing by the government's agenda and manifesto. No one can escape from any quarter. No intercession is going to work in this regard," PM Imran asserted.

By m saleh zaafir & Mumtaz Alvi
July 02, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday that it is first time that government and Army are on one page.

"This is the first setup where the Army is standing by the government's agenda and manifesto. No one can escape from any quarter. No intercession is going to work in this regard," he asserted.

He said that the difficult time had passed and soon the real rate of the dollar against rupee would be ascertained. He said that the dollar rate against Pak rupee was never discussed with the IMF.

The prime minister offered the remarks while sitting down for an interview with a private news channel along with his finance adviser Hafeez Shaikh and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shabbar Zaidi.

The prime minister said that the sons of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had approached two countries with a request to intervene and facilitate their father, who is currently incarcerated after being found guilty in a corruption case. He said the two countries, which he did not name, conveyed the message but refused to intervene. "They told me that we will not interfere," he said. "The NRO will not be offered," he said, referring to a deal similar to the national reconciliation ordinance issued by former dictator Pervez Musharraf, under which cases against a large number of politicians and political workers were quashed. "Two NROs issued by Musharraf to [PML-N's 'supreme leader'] Nawaz Sharif and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari destroyed the country... Later, both of them also gave NROs to each other," he said. The only way forward, he said, is a plea bargain. "A plea bargain can be allowed and no foreign country can do anything in this regard. They (Sharif and Zardari) will have to pay the money," he said. "Give the money and go out of the country," he said, adding that Nawaz Sharif wants to seek treatment from a foreign country and he will be allowed to do so, but after he settles with the government. He added that Asif Zardari is "facing difficulties; he will also be let go if he pays the money".

He said that the twelfth player of politics is trying to unite the opposition. He said that he did not take a fig of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. He said that he had no idea what the political future of Maryam Nawaz.

He maintained that there is no decision being taken to give extension in the tenure of Chief of army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. He said that those convicted in money laundering cases should be kept in jail with common prisoners so that they know what treatment was meted out to the common prisoners.

He said that it was unfortunate that $10 billion money laundering took place in the country on monthly basis. Imran Khan claimed that the opposition is crying foul over the government’s economic policies and accountability drive is tantamount to a thief saying where all the wealth has gone. He warned Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Quaid Nawaz Sharif that there is no foreign pressure on him for their release.

Imran khan stressed that the economy would not be able to sustain itself if the policies of the previous governments were carried forward. He hit out at Asif Zardari and revealed that he made 40 trips to Dubai during his time as the country’s president. “It has now become clear that in the last 10 years, the PML-N and PPP governments have laid waste to the country,” he added.

“I can assure you that no government will provide incentives to the business community like we will,” he said. The prime minister said that the country wants to follow the Chinese model of industrialisation to pay back its debts and lift people out of poverty.

He said the economy could not sustain any longer if it continued with the policies of the previous governments. The prime minister said the entire world’s eyes are now on Pakistan after the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project owing to its strategic position.

When asked if another cabinet reshuffle was on the cards, he said, ”We believe in meritocracy and this will be a highlight of this government’s tenure as you will see in the future.”

He also warned that those politicians who had been arrested or convicted under money laundering charges would not be able to avail themselves of higher classes in jail. "I have told the law ministry that the money launderers should be sent to a common jail. Soon, legislation will be made in this regard. They [money launderers] should know how a common criminal is treated in this country," he warned.

The prime minister, while talking about the state of the economy, claimed that the PTI-led government had spent $10 billion on debt servicing taken by previous governments. He said the incumbent government inherited a record current account deficit of over $19 billion, which increased the pressure on the rupee.

Talking about steps being taken to address the issue, he said that a comprehensive plan is being devised to control smuggling and money laundering, for which new legislation will be brought in.

Asked about the higher tax target for next year, he said that the target will be achieved with the help of tax reforms and by expanding the tax base and net. He again regretted that half of the country's tax collection is being spent on debt servicing. The prime minister was also hopeful that the situation on the economic front will normalise after the next meeting between the government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He vowed that he would not go for a compromise on Pakistan’s interests in the course of dialogue with the United States. It has come from him as he is set to meet United States President Donald Trump in September this year on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) annual summit.

Khan maintained that he was elected by the people of Pakistan and would never succumb to any strong-arm tactics of any foreign country. Pakistan would try its best to ensure that Washington and Tehran should avoid armed conflict amid heightened tensions between the two countries since a war between the two nations would be detrimental to the entire region.

Hafeez Shaikh explained that on one hand, the government was focusing on increase in exports by giving incentives to exporters, like giving subsidy on electricity and gas, relief on duty on import of raw material.

At one point, Prime Minister and he clarified that APTMA was not going for strike and decried the disinformation spread to create uncertainty. They said that IMF had not fixed any rupee-dollar parity. The prime minister regretted how the ruling elite had kept artificial value of rupee to their own advantage, risking the economy.

The advisor said that when the past rulers made exit, there were about $100 billion loans on Pakistan. FBR Chairman Shabbir Zaidi said that the government had not taken any advance tax this year.

He said that a part of the wide-ranging reforms in the department include minimising human intervention, as this could help end corruption. He maintained the benami law would be fully implemented and benami properties would be confiscated however, anyone, who had his assets in his name, but did not pay tax, he w0uld have to pay the tax.