ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday reassured the nation that the ‘promised change’ was coming, but for the real change they will have to have a little patience.
The prime minister had direct interaction with the public over the phone for hours.
He assured the callers that the country’s problems would resolve gradually.
The premier had to take calls for one and half hours but it stretched to two and half hours.
Imran said a war was being fought in Pakistan for the rule of law and currently the country’s biggest problem was the encroachment (Qabza) mafia.
Imran Khan said he daily got out of his residence to wage jihad.
Talking about corruption, Imran said he could not fight it alone and the judiciary and the nation also had to fight it out.
He pointed out that they were calling for Nawaz Sharif’s surety bond but the judiciary sent him out without it.
Without support from the judiciary, he said they could not fight corruption.
He also advised the nation to wear facemasks and strictly follow the SOPs. He said the third wave of corona was the most dangerous so everyone should be careful and wearing a mask was the easiest precaution.
He regretted that people were going out without facemask on adding that if the virus continued to rise, then the government would be forced to go for lockdown.
“An estimated 150 million people worldwide fell below the poverty line each year due to the lockdown,” he added.
When a caller asked the prime minister about corruption in the country, he replied that corruption was a cancer that had spread to every poor country in the world.
“When the rulers commit corruption, they cannot keep the money in the country and send it out, causing double damage to the country.
He again said according to a UN report, one trillion dollars was stolen from poor countries every year that went to the rich countries.
“We are pushing hard to get our money back from the rich countries, but they are obstructing it because they are benefiting from the money,” he said.
Imran noted that ‘corruption could not be fought only through the law saying the whole nation must fight corruption together.
“Imran Khan alone cannot fight this corruption. The judiciary also has to support it and the NAB has to make the right cases,” he added.
The premier regretted, “In our country, corrupt people are invited to programs as if they have conquered Kashmir. When corrupt people get out of jail or NAB, people throw flowers at them. The rule of law, justice and fairness is the real issue and a war is going on in Pakistan”.
He said the corrupt mafia pocketed 600 billion rupees through betting ‘Satta’ on the sugar price.
He said the corrupt opposition leaders had ganged up against him and wanted that he be thrown out.
He reminded the nation that things took time to change in democracy while a snap change in Iran and France led to the beheading of so many people.
He said a minister committed suicide in Singapore when he was found guilty of corruption but in Pakistan corrupt people were invited to ceremonies and flowers were showered on them. The society, he said, had to change its mindset to eradicate corruption.
He said laying hands on the powerful was the success of the present government.
“The promised change is coming, but for real change, the people will have to have a little patience. The problems would be solved gradually,” he said.
A housewife, whose spouse does a private job, complained about what she called the day to day price hike of commodities, whereas she noted the dollar value had come down and rupee stabilized.
“It is becoming impossible for us to pay school fee and also cope with the rising inflation. Ramazan is also approaching. For God’s sake, fulfill your promise and control inflation. If not, then let us be worried, while you have been saying from day one that we should not be worried. Let us be worried now,” she said.
In response, the prime minister assured her that they were concentrating on it.
When asked about inflation by a woman, Imran said, “There are many types of inflation: one is that an item is available at one price in a shop and the same item is available at another price in another shop. We can control this kind of inflation through the administrative steps.”
The second inflation, he noted, was that the farmer prepared an item and took it to the market and when that item reached the people, there was a huge difference in its price.
“The farmer does not get the full amount but the middle man pockets a lot more. We are breaking this and will deliver vegetables and fruits directly from the market to the people, which will give a good price to the farmer and also reduce prices for the people.”
Imran said the third reason for inflation was that before the PTI government came to power, the dollar valued Rs124 and after 2018 it reached Rs160, but thank God that the economy was now stabilizing and the rupee was strengthening.
“Yes, the immediate effect is that the price of diesel and petrol is falling, but when the dollar went from Rs107 to Rs150, it had an effect on the price of electricity.”
He noted that half of the electricity in Pakistan was generated from the imported oil. He said all electricity contracts were signed in dollars and when the value of the dollar rose, it also affected the price of electricity.
He said when the price of diesel went up, it increased the cost of transport.
“We also import food items, 70% edible oil and 70% pulses despite being an agricultural country. Owing to population growth and rains at the wrong time, we imported 4 million tons of wheat in one year.
One thing that has come to light is that the prices are being raised deliberately. There is a mafia of few people who earn billions of rupees. We have an FIA report on flour and sugar. The prices of flour and sugar have been deliberately increased. We have launched an operation against the big mafias for the first time in Pakistan. You don't have to worry because we are working on it all the time”.
On agriculture production, Imran said they were coming up with a revolutionary policy under which the entire sector of agriculture would be changed.
“We will be able to know in advance what we are lacking so that there is no shortage of any kind and the prices do not go up due to shortage.”
To a question about gas shortage, Imran said if the gas network was expanded, it would be difficult to provide it at the current price, as the government bought expensive gas and supplied it to the people by subsidizing its price. He said expansion of gas network would also increase gas loans.
He continued that gas reserves in Pakistan were dwindling but more wells were being dug.
“The gas imported from abroad is expensive, but we are buying it at a lower price,” he said.
On trade with India, the prime minister said relations with India could not normalise until the August 5 move in the Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir was withdrawn.
He said a proposal for relations with India was under discussion and the federal cabinet had decided that no such step would be taken that would send a wrong message to Kashmiris.
Asked about the SBP, the prime minister said, “We are talking to the IMF. A superficial thing has just come to light. There will be a full discussion on this issue in the parliament. The IMF gives loans at the lowest interest rates and when it gives loans, then other institutions also give loans”.
Asked why those involved in heinous crimes against children were not being hanged publicly and what steps his government had taken to check this menace, Imran said though the government had promulgated a very stringent law against such crimes, the law alone could not do unless the entire society made up its mind to fight this cancer.
“Our religion has strictly forbidden immorality/obscenity and the philosophy behind observing ‘pardah’ is that the society is protected and the family system remains intact. Islam called for observing ‘pardah’ so that there was no temptation. The more one spreads immorality, the more it would have its repercussions in the society,” he said.
The premier recalled that he had talked to the filmmakers about showing the Indian content or copying the Western content, as it would have its impact here despite the fact there were no discos or night clubs in the country.
He pointed out that mobile phone had caused the major damage, as now such material was available to children on mobile, which was never ever before.
He said because of this reason, he had talked to the president of Turkey and a Turkish drama was being aired in Pakistan.
“We will enact a strict legislation but the society as a whole will have to fight it, as this cancer is spreading very fast,” he warned.
At one point, he said the encroachment mafia was hand in glove with the rulers in the past adding that the big corrupt mafia in Lahore had the support of a political party and the female leader of a political party also took pictures with the occupation mafia.
He also reiterated that the third wave of coronavirus was extremely dangerous in comparison to the previous two waves, urging the masses to strictly follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
He cautioned the nation ahead of the question-and-answer session that the government would be forced to impose major restrictions if people didn't start adhering to the Covid-19 guidelines.
“We have so far been protecting our people; we are not imposing a lockdown or closing our factories. We are only imposing minor restrictions so that this wave doesn't spread rapidly. But if this spreads, it will have a very negative impact and we will be forced to take steps. The country could have plunged into a severe economic crisis if the government had imposed a lockdown for a second time. Allah blessed Pakistan especially and saved us from the looming danger,” he added.
He emphasized that no one could predict with certainty how far the third virus wave would go.
“I request you to wear a mask wherever you go out; it costs nothing and is highly beneficial, and the world has recognised its advantages. The most affected segment due to lockdowns were the poor across the world. According to an estimate, 150 million people have gone below the poverty line in the wake of closure of businesses and economies,” he noted.
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