KHYBER   -   Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the PTI government is not going anywhere and he won’t be blackmailed by threats of protest campaigns being hurled by the opposition leaders in a bid to escape accountability.

The national economy is in crisis due to the corruption and wrong policies of previous two governments, he said, and warned the opposition top leaders to return the looted money or land in jails.

The prime minister said this while addressing a huge public gathering in Jamrud on Friday wherein he announced a mega development package for district Khyber and reiterated his commitment to spend Rs100 billion annually for a decade in the erstwhile Fata for the welfare of the tribal people.

PM Khan said that Afghanistan was a brotherly neighbour and he prayed for its peace and prosperity. He proposed setting up of an interim-government in Kabul – acceptable to all parties and fictions – for the conduct of election.

Referring to the April 4 speeches of PPP leaders Asif Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Naudero, he said, “Imran Khan will not be blackmailed, as I have come into power only with a motive to hold the corrupt accountable.”

“Zardari Sahib! This government is not going. [But] you are [definitely] going to jail,” the premier said in response to former Presidents threat of launching a march on Islamabad to overthrow PTI-led government.

He offered the PPP leaders a container and even food if they wanted to stage a sit-in in Islamabad. He, however, challenged them to hold even a week-long sit-in in the federal capital.

Sit-ins only succeed when the leaders raise the issues of masses and share their grievances, Khan said, adding that it was only his party that staged four and a half months’ Dharna as it was immensely popular among the masses.

In not a so veiled reference to Zardari’s assuming PPP’s headship after his wife Benazir Bhutto’s death, the premier said the people who became leaders by showing a piece of paper [death will] were not the true leaders. “Leaders emerge through struggle and political hardships”, he added.

Similarly, he said, another political minion, Maulana Fazlur Reham, who was clean-bold in the general

 

 

 

elections, was talking of carrying out a million march.

The prime minister termed Fazl as 12th player and said, “It is like a whinging boy [in the game of cricket] who continues with fielding the whole day, then gets out on the very first ball at crease, and later starts crying foul to disturb the whole match.”

PTI assumed power when the country was passing through a critical economic crisis but with effective steps, the incumbent government would restore the economy in near future, he said.

The PM regretted that the opposition parties (PML-N and PPP) who had completed their five-year terms each during the past 10 years were raising questions about the performance of PTI government over the last 7 months.

He referred to a Joint Investigation Team report and said these people had laundered the public money worth Rs100 billion abroad through fake accounts.

“They are telling us to push the government down and pressurizing us so as to get an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance)”, the prime minister said and added the people like Ishaq Dar, an absconder, were telling the government how to improve economy.

He also mentioned the sons of Nawaz Sharif residing in London and said, “One of his son is living in a house worth Rs6 billion.”

Similarly, he said, a son and son-in-law of Shehbaz Sharif had gone to London. “If you have not done anything wrong, why you have run out of the country,” he remarked.

Imran Khan said when he was called by the court he had presented his 40-year record before it and did not make any hue and cry about democracy getting in danger. “When these people are questioned, democracy comes under danger”, he said.

The prime minister made it clear that those involved in loot and plundering of public money would have to be answerable before the courts as well as before the nation.

“If you have to avoid from going into jails, you will have to give back the public money, which was to be used on health, education and poverty elimination”, he said.

 

Praise for tribal people

Wearing traditional tribal turban, Prime Minister Imran Khan in his address lauded the patriotism and bravery of tribal people, who he said always stood with the country and its armed forces in the hour of need.

He said the people of tribal areas fought alongside the armed forces during the war with India in 1948, when the people of Kashmir were being subjugated to tyranny by the Indian forces, as well as in the 1965 war.

Khan, who has been a critic of sending army in tribal areas on the desire of the United States, said the people of tribal areas had to face many hardships during the war against terrorism including displacement, loss of business and agriculture, destruction of houses and so on.

He assured the tribal people that his government would make every effort to compensate their losses by creating job opportunities for youth, offering them interest-free loans for establishing or reviving their businesses, adding, it was the government’s responsibility which it would fulfill.

The prime minister said he had directed the federal and provincial Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to make necessary arrangements for 24-hour opening of Torkhum Border so as to promote unhindered trade in the area.

 

Development projects

He announced the construction of Jabba and Bara dams in district Khyber, which would ensure the provision of potable water to one million people and irrigate 17,000 hectares of land in the area, respectively.

Imran Khan also announced the construction of Bara By-Pass to ease the flow of traffic in the area.

The prime minister said he would try to ensure increased supply of electricity and gas utilities in the area.

 Economic situation

He referred to the unprecedented economic challenges facing the country and said those comparing the PTI government with the PML-N and PPP should better compare the situation after the PTI completed its five-year term.

The prime minister said the PPP and PML-N took the country’s debt to Rs30,000 billion in ten years of their rule from Rs6,000 billion and Rs15,000 billion in 2008 and 2013, respectively.

He said the PTI government was paying Rs6.5 billion per day in debt-servicing for the huge loans taken by the PPP and PML-N governments.

Giving an overview of the country’s economic condition, the prime minister said Pakistan, which collected Rs4,500 billion per annum in revenue, had to spend Rs 2,000 billion for debt repayment.

He, however, expressed his confidence that with the present government taking effective cost-cutting measures and attracting foreign investment, the country would come out of this hard economic phase within the next few months.