ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday rejecting the criticism of opposition over government’s move to amend the accountability law said that ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf would not withdraw from its anti-corruption slogan and the accountability process would continue at any cost.

PM made these remarks while chairing a meeting of the ruling party’s Media Strategy Committee that was especially called to review the government narrative and public feedback on its decision to make amendments in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999.

“Anyone who has committed corruption, he would have to face the consequences,” the PM was quoted as saying by official PTI sources. The government would make no compromise on corruption, he added.

PM also advised the participants that the ruling party should adopt an effective strategy to sensitise the public about amendments made in the accountability law and to inform them that the decision would not benefit the government as claimed by the opposition.

The premier in the meeting decided that the government would make public its performance for the year 2019, including economic and diplomatic achievements, in the next year starting from Wednesday. PM also said that 2020, for PTI government, would be the year of reforms aimed at betterment of the common people.

The chair also instructed the participants that public should be sensitized about government’s shelter homes programme that has been started for the homeless people and the Ehsas Programme — PM’s ambitious social safety and poverty alleviation initiative.

The official party sources informed that some of the participants including ministers showed their reservations over the government’s response and stance after it promulgated the presidential ordinance to amend the accountability law. The participants observed that the opposition gave a wrong impression that amendments were perhaps a move to benefit “government’s cronies.” They added that the consultations should have been held over government’s stance before legislation.

The PTI government on December 27 promulgated the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 that, according to many analysts, would benefit not only the politicians but also the bureaucrats and the business community. The decision invited criticism from opposition PML-N and PPP who called the move “mothers of all NROs” — a reference to a deal to void corruption cases.

Those who attended the meeting included Planning Minister Asad Umar, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood, Minister for Communications Murad Saeed, Special Assistant to the PM on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, SAPM on National Security and Strategic Planning Dr Moeed Yusuf, Senator Faisal Javed and Dr Babar Awan.

Firdous Ashiq Awan while talking to reporters at an exhibition said that those calling the government’s decision to amend the NAB (National Accountability Bureau) law as “mother of all NROs” have also got benefit from the anti-corruption watchdog.

She said the opposition parties perhaps have not yet read the amendments and clarified that corrupt elements have not been given any relief in the new legislation. Only the honest leaders would benefit from it, she added.

MEETING WITH BALOCHISTAN DELEGATION

APP adds: Imran Khan Monday said the country could not make progress when its resources were plundered and the corrupt criminals kept on stuffing their personal coffers, and declared that the ongoing battle against corruption and corrupt elements would help secure future of Pakistan and its upcoming generations.

The elements who nurtured fears that their corruption would be exposed, and that they would be nabbed, had been crying hoarse, he said while addressing an 87-member delegation from Balochistan province, participating in the National Security workshop.

The participants belonged to different spheres of life, PM office media wing in a press release said.

The prime minister said a country could not progress when criminals held the high offices. Few elements were asking the government to focus on other issues and neglect those criminals who had never been sincere with the country, he added.

He said a leader did not instill fear in the nation to secure their votes but a real leader always gives hope.

Referring to the recent incidents in India, he said leaders never divide the nation or society by misguiding it or through creation of an atmosphere of fear.

About government’s reforms, the prime minister said they faced fiscal and trade deficit challenges but due to the government’s efforts on the economic front, stability was achieved as manifested in the economic indicators of the country.

The 2019 was a year of economic stability and in the upcoming year of 2020 efforts would be made for economic growth rate and promotion of the economic activities, he added.

He expressed his resolve to focus on those areas which lagged behind in terms of social and economic progress.

About China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the prime minister said it would benefit the whole country specially Balochistan and would usher in an era of progress and prosperity in the province. He observed that with the development of Gwadar port as an economic hub of the country the whole province would reap fruits.

The prime minister said the economic stability was a vital component of the national security and the nations facing the burden of debts had to face numerous national security issues.

He said the nations facing economic challenges could not utilize resources for the human development which was inevitable for the national development.

Exemplifying Germany, Japan and US, the prime minister said by focusing upon the human development Japan had joined the comity of developed nations despite having faced immense losses during the World War-II.

He told the delegation that Pakistan had been blessed with huge resources and human resource capital with a great potential. He said the Northern Areas of Pakistan were double the size of Switzerland besides being rich with picturesque beauty. There existed a huge potential of tourism in Northern Areas as well as the religious tourism which had faced neglect in the past.

He said Switzerland generated revenue of around $80 billion merely from the tourism sector which was more than the total exports of Pakistan which stood at $25 billion. Literate people, cleanliness facilities and a disciplined society were the basic factors behind the success of tourism sector in Switzerland, he added.

The prime minister said a long-term future planning was essential to utilise the human resource and counter the national challenges as had been done by China.

Referring to the issues of water in Quetta, Lahore and Karachi, the prime minister said such serious problems had been ignored in the past that had led to their deterioration.

He said unfortunately the pace of country’s agriculture development was lower than the developed countries despite the country being rich with fertile land and sufficient water.

The national economy could be stabilized to a great extent only if the country enhanced its agriculture produce by taking advantage of the latest technology. The government had decided to take benefit from the Chinese expertise in the sector and was focusing on the agriculture technology transfer, he added.

Responding to a query about corruption cases in Balochistan, he said for nabbing white-collar crimes, special expertise was required and the government was paying special attention on the capacity building with respect to elimination of white-collar crimes, the effective prosecution of these cases leading to the logical end.

To other questions, he said the government was paying full attention to the infrastructure development and economic prosperity of Balochistan, noting that exploration of mineral resources and their proper utilization would open a new chapter of progress and prosperity in the province.

The prime minister maintained that the federal and the provincial governments had been cooperating to provide sports facilities and playgrounds to the youth of the province.

The province was rich with resources and the international companies had been expressing their keen interest in the provincial resources under the present government’s policies, he added.

The prime minister observed that the province and its residents would avail immensely with the exploration of natural resources.