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Friday Aug 17 2018

Won't spare those who looted country, vows PM-elect Imran Khan


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairperson Imran Khan, while addressing the National Assembly after being elected as the prime minister on Friday, vowed that he would not spare the ones who looted the country.

"I am grateful to Almighty Allah and the nation for giving me the opportunity to bring a change which the nation wanted. The nation was longing for the change we will bring," Khan said.

The prime minister-elect promised "strict accountability" and to bring back the looted wealth of the country.

"I promise my nation that I will do strict accountability. No robber would be given an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance)," he said, adding, "I have reached here after struggling for 22 years and have not been fostered by any military dictator."

Khan further said that being the prime minister, he would answer the questions in the National Assembly twice a month.

"We will conduct accountability for increase in debts of the country over the past 10 years. The money, which had to be spent on hospitals and for facilitating the people, went into some individuals' pockets," he said.

The prime minister-elect also thanked the youngsters who backed him in his struggle.

Lashing out at the opponents who protested in the House prior to his address, he said, "I ask the parliamentarians who are shouting here, why they didn’t support re-counting in the four constituencies I had requested for.

"We had to go to the Supreme Court. Had they supported us there would have been confidence over the electoral process across the board," the PM-elect said.

"We won’t stop anyone from going to the Election Commission of Pakistan or Supreme Court as we didn’t rig the polls."

He also offered cooperation in the investigation of alleged rigging of the elections.

"We will cooperate in whichever kind of investigation you seek with regard to the polls," Khan said. "We will cooperate because we know that we did not rig the elections."

He, however, made it clear that he could not be "blackmailed."

"No one has ever been able to blackmail me, nor will anyone be able of doing so," the PM-elect. "Raise hue and cry to your heart's content, and if you are to stage a sit-in then we would provide a container for it."

He dared Shehbaz Sharif and Maulana Fazlur Rehman to stage a sit-in for a month, saying that his party would send people to participate in the sit-in and provide food as well.

Imran, whose party swept the July 25 general election and commanded the loyalty of a majority of lawmakers in the Lower House of the Parliament, will take oath of the office on Saturday.

176 members of the National Assembly voted in favour of the PTI chairperson while his opponent, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif, received 96 votes.

Imran Khan and his party campaigned on promises to end widespread graft while building an "Islamic welfare state".

The party has already formed a government in its stronghold of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and an alliance with regional parties in the southwestern province of Balochistan.

It is expected to form a coalition government in Punjab province, formerly a PML-N stronghold, in coming days. Sindh province remains in the hands of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

PTI candidates were also voted speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly this week, putting Khan in a strong position to carry forward his legislative agenda.

He will face myriad challenges including militancy, water shortages, and a booming population negating growth in the developing country, among others.

Most pressing will be a looming economic crisis, with speculation that Pakistan will have to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.