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Parliament right forum if dialogue desired: PM Imran Khan

Top Story

December 10, 2020

Parliament right forum if dialogue desired: PM Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said democracy will only work in the country if a national dialogue is held between the government and the opposition.

The premier said the constitutional way to send a government packing is to table a no-confidence motion in the Parliament and dared the opposition to do so. "If the opposition seeks to move a no-confidence motion, they should come and do so in the assemblies," he said, criticising the call for mass resignations from assemblies by Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

His remarks came during a conversation with journalists in the city in which he touched upon several issues, including the current political climate in the country, Pakistan's economy, corruption, and the aftermath of coronavirus, Geo News reported.

Speaking further of the resignations, which the opposition says will be handed in for both provincial as well as national assemblies, the prime minister said: "If they hand in resignations, we will hold by-elections on those seats and will emerge even stronger." "I do not understand what they aim to do," he added.

Imran Khan said that democracy will only work in the country if a national dialogue is held between the government and the opposition, adding that he has never backed down from the idea.

"The best place for political dialogue is the Parliament," the prime ministersaid. "I had said from the beginning that I was ready to answer all questions in the Parliament," he said. He went on to say that whenever the government talks about dialogue, the opposition starts demanding the closure of corruption cases against their leaders.

"Cases were filed against many opposition leaders during their own tenures," the premier revealed. "Ishaq Dar, Nawaz Sharif's children and his son-in-law all fled from the country in the past," he said. He reiterated that the government is ready to negotiate with the opposition on all matters except for corruption cases, which are unforgivable, and the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). He said the opposition is crying for the fear of being caught, not for democracy. He said the opposition made cases against each other, and he could not end these cases.

When asked about the achievements of the PTI-led government over the years, PM Imran Khan said that PTI's biggest victory was to save the country from bankruptcy. "We had been historically facing a deficit in every sector. With massive debts and corruption, previous governments had left the country in dire straits. It was a big challenge for us to steer the country away from the crisis," the prime minister said.

He said that Pakistan's economy, through his government's concerted efforts, is finally progressing towards betterment. "Over the last decade, governments in power could only recover Rs6 billion in revenue. We, on the other hand, have retrieved Rs207 billion from Punjab alone within 27 months," he said.

The prime minister also talked about various development projects and different health-related initiatives in the country. Meanwhile, Imran Khan on Wednesday said in his address to the business community here that Sialkot had already been recognised as a unique centre of industry and export and in the coming times it was going to become a big centre of industrial activities in the country.

Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Daud, Federal Minister Hammad Azhar, Special Assistant to PM on Youth Affairs Usman Dar, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Adviser to CM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and a number of leading local businessmen were also present on the occasion.

Imran Khan further said that Abdul Razak Daud and Hammad Azhar had been fully in touch with the business community of Sialkot in order to be fully aware of their problems and issues and then briefed him about that. He said the government was trying to utilise all the available resources in order to help and promote the industrial sector and properly appreciate the industrialist community in the country. He opined that solid-based industrialisation in the country was essential for the production of wealth and the opportunities of employment. He said that in the 1960s the industrial progress and economic growth in the country was quite phenomenal, but the launching of anti-business and anti-industry policies in 1970s badly affected that process of growth and progress.

Imran Khan said that the current government was the first in the country to sincerely and seriously launch industrialisation on solid basis. He said that removing hurdles in the way of industrialisation and enhancement of the opportunities of investment was the main object of the government that would also help in the alleviation poverty.

Imran Khan highly appreciated the Sialkot-based business community for undertaking and achieving many mega projects for the social welfare and the growth of business. He showed full confidence that Sialkot-based business community would successfully manage and run Air Sial, like it had run and manage the Sialkot International Airport earlier. He viewed that Air Sial (an airline launched by the businessmen of Sialkot) would not only help the Sialkot-based businessmen, but it would also help in creating an atmosphere of positive competition for other airlines including national flag career Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

Imran Khan said the government had taken tough decisions of implementing lockdown when the first wave of COVID-19 started, but with the help of Allah Almighty and cooperation from the public, Pakistan suffered little as compared to the rest of the world including India. He said that Pakistan was among those seven countries mentioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for successfully handling the first wave of the pandemic. He said that Pakistan was quite lucky where number of the casualties caused by COVID-19 in seven months was far lesser than the number of deaths in developed countries, like US and UK, in even a few days or weeks.

The prime minister said that the opposition parties initially criticised the government for not taking tough measures to avoid COVID-19, but currently they were busy in violation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) against coronavirus by holding public meetings thus causing the spread of the pandemic. He said that care and caution regarding COVID-19 from every citizen was the only way to avoid casualties in the current second phase of the epidemic. He urged the people to use facemasks and strictly follow the SOPs in order to ensure their safety and safety of others against the current second wave of COVID-19. He said the country is heading for a difficult winter if corona SOPs were not followed.

The prime minister said uplift and far off and neglected areas in Punjab, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was one of the top-most priorities of his government because no country could achieve real meaningful progress with focusing on only a few areas for development and neglecting so many. He appreciated the Chinese model of economic progress where more than 700 million people were pulled out of poverty within 35 years and now China is an economic giant. He said that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was highly beneficial for Pakistan, but it was also key to economically promote and develop the far-off areas of Western China by linking them with sea. He expressed his wish to adopt Chinese model for the progress of the industrial sector of Pakistan. He said the government was trying to promote Sialkot, Gujranwala, Wazirabad, Gujrat, Faisalabad and Karachi as new vigorous centres of industry and export for Pakistan.

Earlier, Imran Khan inaugurated Air Sial, and later he also attended different ceremonies. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday welcomed US President-elect Biden’s declared intent of a policy targeting dirty money and said developing countries were being impoverished by their corrupt elites.

In a tweet, the prime minister said, “I welcome US President-elect Biden's declared intent of a policy targeting dirty money. Developing countries are being impoverished by their corrupt elites who launder money to richer countries and offshore tax havens.”