Price hike compulsion, no immediate remedy: PM Imran

Lahore: Prime Minister Imran Khan has termed the price-hike a compulsion and warned of no immediate remedy in the face of financial crunch in the country.

In an interaction with reporters at the 8-Club after chairing a Punjab cabinet meeting on Sunday, the PM said that the past rulers pushed the country towards severe crisis and the only way out to reduce the burden of foreign loans on Pakistan and provide relief to masses was to recover the wealth, looted by the corrupt rulers in the past.

Warning the nation of tough times ahead, the premier said the government might go to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) for assistance. He also ruled out any ‘NRO’ (secret deal) with the corrupt elements categorically, saying that the looted wealth of the nation would be recovered at all costs.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, federal ministers Fawad Chaudhry and Shafqat Mehmood were also present. “Come what may, there will be no NRO; none of them will be spared. Their blackmailing will not work now,” said PM Imran Khan while expressing his views about the protest, launched by Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) following the arrest of the party head and opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif. No heavens have fallen with the arrest of Shahbaz Sharif, he added.

He said the PML-N and PPP were a ‘union of corruption’ and when they faced accountability, they start terming it a threat to democracy. He said those making hue and cry over the arrest of Shahbaz Sharif were, in fact, fearing their own arrest in near future, over their corruption. However, he warned that the government would not succumb to any blackmailing at all.

Coming down hard on Shahbaz Sharif and criticising his role as Punjab chief minister, he said the so-called ‘Nelson Mandela’ could no more deceive the nation and those, who were seen chanting slogans in his favour, knew that very soon, they would also be behind the bars for their corruption.

Imran said if the supporters of ‘Nelson Mandela’ wanted to stage a ‘dharna’ (sit-in), the government could provide them a container, but they must know it well that nobody involved in corruption would be spared.

The PM, while responding to the allegation levelled against him that the arrest of Shahbaz Sharif was a kind of political victimisation, said NAB (National Accountability Bureau) was not under his command. It is an independent organisation, and it was also summoning him in a case, he added. “Had NAB been under me, nearly 50 persons would have been arrested so far. The speed of NAB chairman is slow,” added the premier.

He said in political victimisation, fake cases are registered against someone, but here cases have been pending against Shahbaz Sharif for the last 10 months. He said he totally disagreed with the NAB chairman when he said that Shahbaz would not be arrested till the general elections. Imran said the statement was just like sparing a player involved in match fixing till the end of the series.

About the performance of the PTI government, Imran said that till 100 days, it would complete its work in setting the future line of action, directions and roadmap, after which everyone may asks questions about its performance.

Currently, he said the country was in a critical situation and tough decisions would have to be taken. He said the burden of foreign loans on Pakistan had jumped from $6 trillion to $28 trillion.

In order to cover the deficit in the sectors of energy, gas, their rates had to be increased, and to protect Pakistan from further loss, its looted wealthwould have to be brought back He said the bodies like FIA (Federal Investigation Agency), IB (Intelligence Bureau) were under him, whereas with the help of the FBR, the government was also widening the tax net.

Imran Khan said the PTI government had found hundreds of foreign properties and action would be taken against those who had established them illegally. Without naming a politician, he said his flats at a foreign land had been purchased in the name of his servant.

Similarly, he said in the drive against encroachments, land of billions of rupees had been retrieved from the Qabza mafia in federal capital and Punjab. To a question about going to the IMF, Imran Khan said ‘possibly, we can go to the IMF’.

He said the government was in talks with different organisations and working on the plan of restructuring its economy. The PM also told the media that the PTI government was coming up with legislation in the form of whistle blower and witness protection bills. He said that the government would award 20% of the recovered amount to the person who would aid it in exposing corruption.

Imran also advised journalists to help the government and earn money through this legislation. The PM said the opposition political parties were doing dramas in the name of saving democracy.

“If you want to protest, we will give you a container. You can shout as much as you want in the assembly. But the corrupt people should get it that I won’t spare anyone,” he said.

Earlier, addressing the Punjab cabinet meeting in Lahore, Prime Minister Imran Khan praised the ongoing campaign against land mafia and encroachments, spearheaded by Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar. He said the operation should be carried out against the strong mafia not against the poor living in shanties. He called upon the provincial government to stay firm in the face of any resistance by the Qabza mafias. He said katchi abadis (slum areas) would have to be legalised and the provincial government should work on it.

The chief minister informed the PM that he reduced the expenses of CM office from Rs5.5 million per month to Rs0.9 million per month.

The PM said the PTI government would ensure transfer of power at grass-roots level in the new local governments system. He said the purpose behind introducing the new LG system was to transfer the power to the masses and ensure completion of development projects at their proper time. He directed the Punjab government to do legislation over it.

Imran Khan directed the cabinet to stand firmly against the land mafia while pledging complete support from the Centre. He also said the target set by the PTI government for its first 100 days should also be achieved.

AlamulKhabar Pakistan