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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday said the PTI government crafted the best ever foreign policy in the country’s history that not only won US trust in Pakistan and restored its dented image, but also brought relations between the two nations on an equal footing.
Speaking in the National Assembly, Imran recalled that Pakistan was criticized and humiliated despite supporting the US-led war on terrorism. He recalled that the Americans came to Abbottabad and martyred al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden heaping humiliation on Pakistan.
He said the entire world cursed at Pakistan despite sacrificing 70,000 precious human lives in their war adding that the Pakistanis abroad were also exposed to boos, jeers, and taunts.
“We were also targeted with drone attacks and the then government in Pakistan opposed them tooth and nail for public consumption. When a US senator asked the then military chief Admiral Mike Mullen in a Senate hearing as to why drone attacks were being carried out despite objection of the Government of Pakistan, he replied that the attacks were being carried out with the permission of Government of Pakistan,” said the premier.
He said Pakistan did not know whether it was an ally or foe of the United States in the war on terrorism. Compared with the past, today it is US President Trump who showed respect for Pakistan and requested for support for the Afghan peace process.
“The two countries now have relations on equal basis and the US has admitted that Imran Khan is right in saying that Afghanistan needs a political not military solution,” he said.
He said another big success of his government’s foreign policy was that Pakistan was trying for reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia on their request. Talking about the Pak-India relations, Imran said there would be many opportunities for Pakistan and India if Kashmir issue were resolved.
He said Kashmir dispute stood internationalized because of the government’s efforts. He said the whole world was witnessing the persecution of Muslims in India and Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The prime minister said the government had prepared a plan to further raise this lingering dispute at the world level. Expressing concerns over the situation in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, he said India had deployed 800,000 troops in the territory to suppress the Kashmiri people.
He said the Kashmiris movement for their right to self-determination could not be stopped and it had reached the point of no return after illegal annexation of Kashmir by abrogating Article 370 of the Indian constitution, scraping the special status of the Kashmir state.
He said Modi was a fanatic, who was involved in persecution of minorities under the RSS-inspired Hindutva ideology. He said Modi had committed massacre of Muslims in Gujarat. He dispelled the impression that there was any ambiguity or confusion on part of the government to take decisions to cope with the corona pandemic maintaining that there were also no contradictions in his statement on the issue.
Imran told his critics that Pakistan was the only country in the world where there was no confusion while adopting measures to control COVID-19 but every state had to take decisions keeping in view its own issues.
He said the government enforced the lockdown as soon 26 COVID-19 cases were detected in Pakistan adding that it had been his consistent fear that COVID-19 was a phenomenon that nobody could predict anything about it. However, he said the center and provinces could not form a uniform policy to control COVID-19.
Responding to the criticism, the prime minister challenged the opposition leaders to quote even a single speech in which he had issued contradictory statement.
Imran said some ministers in his cabinet favoured a strict lockdown but the government introduced a smart lockdown instead of complete lockdown to protect people from the disease and hunger.
On the other hand, he said 34 percent people had gone below the poverty line in India due to complete lockdown, which vindicate Pakistan government’s stance of not going for a complete shutdown.
The prime minister also emphasized the need to create awareness among the masses to strictly follow the standard operating procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our health system can cope with the challenge of pandemic if people strictly follow the preventive measures and burden on hospitals will increase if SOPs are not adhered to in letter and spirit,” Imran Khan said.
He said the elderly and sick people, patients of heart and blood pressure and chronic diseases should be protected from the disease adding that the Tiger Force had been deployed to convince people to observe SOPs to prevent the contagion.
“I want to tell the nation that the coming days will be difficult and it is vital follow SOPs,” he said. He said the government established the National Command and Operation Centre to gather data, get expert opinion from doctors and input from provinces and evaluate the world’s trends in dealing with the pandemic.
“Now we have verified and updated data on the corona patients and availability of necessaries medical equipment, including personal protective equipment, ventilators and beds in hospitals,” said the premier.
“I appreciate the working of the NCOC. It was due to the NCOC that the government did not take contradictory decisions,” he added. The prime minister pointed out that like the global economy, the economy of Pakistan also suffered losses, but the government managed to make a lot of improvement while introducing the smart lockdown.
“The world, which witnessed such a worst economic crisis in 100 years, suffered a loss of 12 trillion dollars,” he said. Comparing the performance of his government with the previous ones, the prime minister said the PTI government inherited an economy that was in bad shape with current account deficit of 20 billion dollars, which had now reduced to three billion dollars.
He said borrowing from the State Bank stood at six trillion rupees when the PTI came to power but it had been brought down to zero. “Our tax collection witnessed a growth of 17 percent, and non-tax revenue 33 percent before the breakout of the coronavirus,” he said.
He said Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) rose to 2.1 billion dollars from one billion dollars, while during this period, remittances and exports also registered a growth. He said India was continuously increasing the defence budget while Pakistan’s armed forces had reduced their expenses.
Imran Khan said the expenses on his visit to the United States and the United Nations should not be compared with similar visits of Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif.
He pointed out that Asif Zardari, Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi spent 1.3 million dollars, 1.1 million dollars and 0.7 million dollars respectively on their visits to the United Nations, while the total expenditures on his visit were $162,000.
He pointed out that the foreign debt had surged to nearly Rs30,000 billion from Rs16,000 billion when the PTI government took and the country was on the verge of default. “But unfortunately, the leadership of past regimes followed a luxurious living style,” he said.
He pointed out that half of loans taken by the present government were spent on paying loans of previous governments. “So far, we have paid off Rs5,000 billion loans,” he said, adding that the economy, which the PTI government inherited was not economy of Switzerland.
He told the House that he was never shy of asking for funds for his NGOs like Shaukat Khanum Hospital for the last 30 years. “But I accompanied by Asad Umar and Shah Mahmood Qureshi really felt ashamed of asking for assistance from friendly countries,” he said, adding that then the country was nearing default due to misdeeds of the past political headship.
He said a prime minister was like father of the nation and he felt the pain his children were facing. The prime minister pointed out that India was trying to create instability in ex-Fata, and therefore it was vital to focus on the area development.
He pointed out that no nation could move forward without a vision and the vision of Pakistan was an Islamic welfare state on the pattern of state of Madina. “Whosoever learns from the model of state of Madina will succeed,” he said, adding that they also wanted to take forward vision of Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal.
He said learning from welfare state of Madina, the government launched the Ehsaas Programme for the oppressed people adding that the main power of Madina was merit. “This is China, with whom we have best relations, that has moved much ahead in development while following the principle of merit,” he said.
Quoting from the models of Hazrat Umar (RA) and Hazrat Ali (RA), the prime minister maintained that no country could progress unless its rulers were accountable. He said also gave account of his 40 years old flats in London and said he had brought back legal money from England to the country.
“Why the common man should be answerable to the law if the rulers are not held accountable?” he asked. Imran recalled that he not only gave account of his flats in London to the Supreme Court but also provided money trail of the house purchased from his first wife’s money.
At this point, the prime minister said it was not he who created the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) but he had to face allegations and abuses. “How we will be able to give facilities of health and education to our masses unless there is accountability in the right direction?” the prime minister asked.
Imran said neither he had enmity towards anyone in the opposition not did he want to take revenge but a noisy situation was created whenever he took the floor for speech. Imran maintained that Parliament should continue, as the solutions to problems lay in discussion.
“The opposition makes hue and cry leveling allegations of NAB-Niazi alliance whenever there is a debate in the House,” he said. He made it clear to the opposition that no democracy could strengthen without merit and accountability and no society could progress without supremacy of law.
Imran Khan pointed out that it was revealed after inquiry that the sugar mills owners enjoy subsidy of Rs29 billion and pay Rs9 billion taxes. On dealing with the locust challenge, the prime minister assured the House that all out efforts would be made to meet the challenge. He said the NDMA had been authorized to make the necessary purchase to control the pest. “An emergency on this issue has been in force since January 31 and the nation will fight out the challenge,” he said.