–PM says a leader who does not take ‘U-turn’ according to circumstances is not a ‘real leader’
–Claims Pakistan has received exceptional package from China but Beijing has stopped them from revealing agreement’s details
–Govt to unveil comprehensive plans on education, health, poverty reduction after 100-day report card
–PM Khan rejects claims of election rigging made by opposition parties, says govt made clear offer to open any constituency
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said a leader who does not take “U-turns” according to requirements of the situation is not a real leader, as he refused to reveal the details of the financial assistance package China has agreed to give Pakistan.
Talking to journalists at the Prime Minister’s House, the premier cited an example from his cricket days when he led Pakistan’s national team, saying, “We used to make strategies for matches but if those plans failed to deliver then we would make new strategies.”
PM Khan referred to Adolf Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte and said, “Hitler and Napoleon suffered huge defeats and caused losses as they did not take U-turns.”
“If you are walking and there is a wall in front of you, then you will have to find another way around it,” PM Khan said, adding that “a leader who does not know how to take U-turns is not successful.”
However, taking a jibe at former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, PM Khan said that “what Nawaz did in court was not a U-turn but a lie”.
The premier’s interaction with journalists mainly focused on the country’s economic situation and accountability process.
The prime minister said the government had inherited fiscal and current account deficit and the government tried its utmost to cope with these issues. He said the issue had been addressed for the time being consequent to the support from friendly countries.
Discussing the country’s economic condition and organisations facing huge losses, the prime minister said the circular debt in power sector swelled from Rs 400 billion in 2013 to Rs 1200 billion in 2018. “Gas losses had increased to Rs 150 billion, PIA losses touched Rs 400 billion mark while Pakistan Steel Mills was facing losses of around Rs 400 billion. The Utility Stores Corporation was facing a loss of Rs 14 billion and Pakistan Post was under the deficit of Rs 9 billion. However, the government would gradually overcome these issues,” he stated.
He said currently the foreign remittances worth around $15 to $20 billion were coming to Pakistan through banking channel and an equal amount was being sent through illegal channels like hawala/hundi. The government was facilitating the overseas Pakistanis to encourage them to send remittances through banks, he added.
He said the priority of the government was to curb money laundering as currently around $10 billion were being laundered. The government was also signing agreements with other countries to address the crime, he added.
To a question, the prime minister said the government had started reformation process in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). He said the National Accountability Bureau was an independent entity and hoped that organisation would review its capacity to take the cases to logical end according to its current strength and human resource.
‘CAN’T REVEAL CHINA DEAL’:
PM Khan said his recent visits to Saudi Arabia and China had been “very fruitful” and Pakistan would soon be on the road to progress.
“The next three to six months are difficult but from next year onward our economic situation is going to improve significantly and we will be on the right track,” he said, claiming that no other prime minister had been able to achieve so much in their foreign visits as he had.
However, PM Khan refused to reveal the details of the Chinese package, claiming that Beijing had asked Islamabad to keep the agreement secret.
“Pakistan has received a big financial package from China but President Xi Jinping doesn’t want to make the details public,” he said, explaining that other countries will also start demanding more money from Beijing.
“Concrete results of my visit are beginning to show. We are receiving all forms of aid from China and are satisfied,” he said.
Regarding the ongoing money laundering probe and foreign assets owned by Pakistanis, PM Khan said, “We have traced $15 billion that was sent to Dubai from Pakistan.”
“Efforts are underway to bring back Pakistan’s looted wealth,” he added. “We have also signed agreements with Britain and Switzerland to repatriate money taken abroad illegally,” the premier continued.
While speaking about the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) decision to not give the chairmanship of Public Accounts Committee to Shehbaz Sharif, the premier said, “Those facing corruption cases cannot be appointed PAC chairperson.”
“We will not appoint Shehbaz Sharif as PAC chairperson under any circumstances,” he said.
The premier also vowed to uphold all decisions taken by the Supreme Court, but said that there was a need for amendment in the accountability laws to make the process more efficient.
100-DAY REPORT CARD:
The premier said that his government, after the completion of its first 100 days, will unveil an all-inclusive and comprehensive programmes on education, health, poverty reduction and other areas.
“First 100 days of any government give an outlook of its future direction. These 100 days are important in a way that this period helps reveal the masses, the future course of government and its policies,” he said.
The prime minister regretted that unfortunately no effort was ever made for democracy in Pakistan, adding, instead of democracy the trend of kleptocracy was promoted in the country where the rulers continued to utilize the government for their personal gains.
He said as one trillion US dollars were estimated to be transferred from the poor nations to rich countries, Pakistan was also counted among the countries whose wealth was transferred abroad through money laundering by the elite.
The prime minister said despite all the foreign aid received so far, Pakistan was considered as a third world country. “It is unfortunate that we still do not know as to how much resources we have and own,” he remarked.
He said with the country having a lot of oil and gas resources besides other unexplored resources for which no effort was made in the past, it was revealed by his government that only 6 per cent of Pakistan’s oil and gas reserves were utilised so far.
PM Khan said that institutions in the countries with poor rule of law were deliberately weakened so that corruption by ruling elite was made possible.
“Cronies were appointed in the institutions by ignoring merit so that they did not hinder the corruption by ruling elite,” he said, adding in this way the white-collar crime, which was difficult to check, was facilitated.
“We are not fighting against the democrats rather are against those who destroy the country. The country cannot achieve progress without real democracy,” he remarked.
‘CLEAR OFFER TO PROBE RIGGING’:
Talking about the 2018 elections, PM Khan said the PTI faced defeat on some 55 seats including 14 National Assembly seats and 40 Provincial Assembly seats with the margin of just 3,000 to 4,000 votes.
He said the government gave a clear offer to the opposition for the opening of any constituency about which they had any complaint, adding, but the objective opposition was not the same.
“Some people know, as things are also coming before us and when all facts will come across, what would be their future?” he remarked.
The prime minister said the main reason behind the fact that people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), which was known for their trend of not electing any political party twice, voted PTI into power again with a two-third majority was the people-oriented work of PTI government in the province.
He said that Maulana Fazalur Rehman and other politicians were making hue and cry due to the fact they know that after KP they would be politically defeated altogether from other areas of the country as well.
The prime minister said that Pakistan was rich with immense opportunities for investment and the government was striving to introduce technology in the investment process.