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PM Imran Khan urges people to be patient

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday admitted that inflation was hitting the people hard and urged them to show a bit of patience and trust the government, as the country had balanced its deficit and was on its way to stability.

He was responding to the questions of general public in a live television program – “Aap ka Wazir Azam Awam kay Sath“ – over phone.

The calls were broadcast live on television and were moderated by the Chairman Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting Senator Faisal Javed Khan. The citizens asked questions related to different issues, including the coronavirus vaccine, issues of Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan, inflation, the opposition, and the concept of Riasat-e-Madina, among others.

Answering a question, the prime minister said he held weekly meetings on the inflation issue and blamed depreciation of rupee against dollar for it. "When our government came, there was pressure on the rupee, as the previous government had artificially kept the rupee high. Everything becomes expensive when rupee falls," he said, adding the PTI government was trying to bridge the gap between imports and exports.

"We have balanced our deficit and now the country is on the right path. We are now taking steps to increase dollars coming in the country [...] rupee will get stronger." Asked why he was denying NRO to the opposition leaders, he said, “Then we should open the jails. Why should those involved in petty crimes like stealing a motorbike or a buffalo be jailed?”

He said the NRO to the opposition would be like “committing treason to the country” to pardon the looters. He said the country was still repaying the loans the previous governments had taken a decade ago.

He referred to the State of Madina and the golden principles put in place by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and said no country could achieve progress and development without following the rule of law.

“Any country that pursues might is right could neither develop nor prosper,” he added. The prime minister said many nations that did not ensure the rule of law faced destruction. “NROs lead a country to destruction,” he remarked.

He said Pakistan was one of the most resource-rich nations but was lagging behind just because of the corruption of its previous leaders, who laundered money abroad. On the contrary, he said the countries with rule of law like Switzerland and Scandinavian countries were prospering despite having no huge resources except tourism.

He said the money laundering by leaders hit the country two-way — they laundered money in dollars leading to the depreciation of the local currency. Answering another question, the prime minister said the country will only progress when rule of law will be strengthened.

He said the accountability of leaders was more important than that of patwaris or SHOs. “Former president Pervez Musharraf gave NRO to the looters which multiplied debt burden over the 10 years and today half of the collected revenue goes to pay a markup on the existing loans,” he added.

"Giving NRO to the powerful and throwing the poor in jails will only destroy the country," he said. "The biggest looters came together and formed a union and they have been trying to pressurise the government for the past two years. Former president General Pervez Musharraf gave NRO to the biggest looters during his tenure. The corrupt rulers stole people's money and laundered it abroad," he said, adding that by bringing up the foreign funding case against the ruling PTI, the opposition has put itself in a troublesome situation.

"We have provided names of 40,000 donors to the Election Commission of Pakistan in relation to the foreign funding case but the opposition parties could not even name one hundred donors."

Citing the example of Malaysia, the PM said the country also witnessed the rise of "PDM-like" alliances which pushed the country into debts. He said their conscience was clear, as it was not the PTI but looters like Fazlur Rehman and Nawaz Sharif who committed money laundering and would stand exposed in the Election Commission of Pakistan.

"The country has been pushed into crises during the decade-long rule of the PML-N and PPP combined," he said, adding that people expected the PTI government to come into power and change everything overnight which was only possible in fairytales.

"It takes time to fix the problems of the country," he stressed. To a question, he said the united opposition wanted to secure its hold in the Senate through horse-trading and a government amendment aimed at curbing this unconstitutional and undemocratic practice in the upcoming week will show the nation what the opposition leaders were up to.

To a question, the prime minister said the first shipment of COVID vaccine had arrived that would be first administered to the frontline health workers and then to the elderly people. The government, he said, would try to cover the maximum population by end of this year, he added.

Imran Khan said the government was resolved to develop Gilgit Baltistan as a tourism hub as the area was double the size of Switzerland and was rich with far more natural beauty. He said Switzerland being half of the Northern Areas was earning $80 billion US dollars, while Pakistan’s total exports were only $25 billion US dollars.

When a questioner drew attention towards the backwardness of Turbat area of Balochistan, the prime minister pointed that previous political setups had damaged the area, as the money allocated for the uplift of the areas was never spent.

He said the local government system was a solution to the problem of backward and neglected areas in Balochistan and elsewhere. He said the government had already announced the “biggest development package” for the uplift of Turbat and other districts of Sothern Balochistan.

He said the government had also decided to introduce 3G and 4G services for benefit of the population, particularly the students from Balochistan, for online education. “You will have to show a bit of patience. We are also developing merged tribal areas. We are lacking the resources needed for the development,” he said.

He said the government would ensure that the revenue from the mineral resources of Balochistan was spent on the development and welfare of the local population. Regarding the housing loans, the prime minister said house financing in Pakistan stood at 0.2% against 80% in US, UK end Europe, 30% in Malaysia and 10% in India.

He said as the only bottleneck had been removed after approval of foreclosure law, the banks were now extending loans purely on merit without any political intervention. He said the government would also give subsidies on construction of the first 100,000 houses making the beneficiaries use their money to pay installments, instead of the house rent.

Earlier Minister for Information Senator Shibli Faraz shared a video clip where the prime minister was heading to interact with the people on the telephone. Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Tuesday said ‘selected’ Prime Minister Imran Khan had a ‘farce and selected’ telephonic talk to deceive the nation and he should have given detail of assets of Aleema Khan instead of accusing Asif Ali Zardari.

“Will the selected and puppet prime minister tell where are those 200 billion dollars which he had promised?” said Secretary Information PPP Parliamentarians Shazia Atta Marri in reaction to the telephonic talk of Prime Minister Imran Khan with citizens.

Shazia asked if wheat was short in the country then why it was exported. She asked why the income of people was reducing at a time when petrol, power and gas were getting pricier. “Why people cannot afford to buy medicines and why they are being made jobless,” she asked.

She said the foreign funding case revolved round the selected prime minister who had admitted receiving illegal funds from abroad before the Election Commission of Pakistan. “What kind of "State of Madina" is this where the ruler regularises his illegal Banigala palace and razes the abodes of poor people to the ground,” she asked.

Shazia said the Broadsheet scandal was exposing a sham accountability. Secretary General PPP Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari said Imran Khan was a prime minister, who blamed his failures and incompetence on the previous governments.

“He is the only prime minister in the history of the country who miserably failed to bring any people welfare project,” said Bukhari. He said the people of Pakistan were not ready to accept the prime minister’s mantra of accusing the previous government for his failures.

“Imran Khan now has realized the time of the real accountability and justice has come,” he said. He asked why a person involved in the sugar scam was not touched yet. “Who are patronizing those hoarders minting money by increasing the prices of sugar, wheat and other commodities?” He said everyone knew that Prime Minister Imran Khan himself was leading and patroniSing the mafia.