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July 1, 2020

‘No doubt’ India behind stock exchange attack, says Imran

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July 1, 2020

By News Desk

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said he had “no doubt” India was involved in the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) attack and other terrorist activities in the country as it had a major plan to destabilise Pakistan and create an atmosphere of “instability, of uncertainty”.

Speaking on a variety of subjects in the National Assembly, the Prime Minister especially mentioned the valour and sacrifices of the police personnel and security guards who thwarted a terrorist attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange on Monday. Ahead of the Premier’s speech, opposition parties staged a walkout in protest.

He paid tribute to the sacrifices of the “heroes of Pakistan — sub-inspector Shahid Shaheed (martyr), and three stock exchange guards Ifitkhar, Khudayar and Hassan Ali”. The latter’s sister suffered from a cardiac arrest and could not survive on hearing news of his martyrdom, the Prime Minister lamented. The Prime Minister further said that the terrorists, armed with weapons, had arrived with nefarious designs to take the people at the PSX hostage, but the police and security personnel frustrated their plan. Khan also revealed that the country’s intelligence agencies were on high alert. “Four major terrorist acts have been thwarted and pre-empted including two around the federal capital Islamabad,” he said, adding it was a huge success and appreciated the performance and vigilance of the intelligence agencies.

On Monday, security forces foiled an attempt made by four militants to storm the PSX building in Karachi. All four terrorists who attacked the PSX building were killed by security personnel within eight minutes, with three security guards and a police sub-inspector embracing martyrdom. Defending his coronavirus response, Khan went on the offensive and flayed the opposition for being “confused” and attacked Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Khawaja Asif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) parliamentarian Bilawal Bhutto Zardari without naming them to cheers from his party. He did call out his predecessor Nawaz Sharif by name.

He also pledged on the floor of the once again to take on the “mafias” entrenched in loss-making public sector organisations like the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and the power sector, which he termed “a big nuisance” for the government.

Invoking Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities while referring to the situation the country was going through, the Prime Minister said “it was the best of times and the worst of times”, but the “best times could come if we embark on reforms”.

“We are still facing an economic challenge,” Khan said. “The entire debt of the power sector belongs to the governments of the past, he added. “We are ready for drastic changes in power sector. The corrupt who benefited from a system will resist changes to the status quo.”

PIA was the best airline in the world, the Prime Minister lamented, but said a “mafia is now sitting in the national carrier which was behind the changing of “ten chief executives in 11 years”.

“We need to reform institutions,” Khan added. “We can no longer continue without institutional reforms. There are big mafias in the institutions.” He said his party’s mission was to take on the “mafias” in those loss making bodies.

“We can’t continue as is. We either reform or face bad times,” Khan cautioned. “What does the sugar inquiry tell us? That a few people are making windfall profits. Industrialisation, businesses, agriculture are the future of our country. But they should pay their due taxes.

“This is our mission. To bring all these cartels to heel. The monopolies and cartels... they could not have survived without the patronisation of governments.” He then added: “We will initiate inquiries everywhere. We will go after those who exploit the people.”

While criticising PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, Khan said Sharif was “stealing money and taking it out of the country”. And without naming Khawaja Asif, Prime Minister Khan said a former finance minister told Sharif: “Mian Sahib, don’t worry, people will forget about Panama soon.”

He also criticised the opposition for not allowing him to “speak from day one”. “These people want the government to collapse, so their theft could remain hidden,” he added.

The Prime Minister also said he was not afraid of losing power. “I never said my position is strong. If not today, then tomorrow I have to go too. I tell young parliamentarians never to be afraid of losing the ‘chair’,” Khan added. That mindset allows him to not budge from his ideology, he stressed.

He also said former president Gen Pervez Musharraf’s government was not bad, but he was wrong to approve the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), which Khan said was responsible for the state Pakistan’s economy was in at present.