Tuesday May 11, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said he would change "his team" if his advisors and ministers do not perform up to the mark.
The prime minister was taking calls from the public over an array of issues that included corruption, inflation, problems with the tourism sector, the government's housing societies and relations with India.
One of the callers complained about people thronging Eid bazaars because the government had restricted business hours to stem the spread of the pandemic.
In response, the prime minister acknowledged the move was a quandary as the government wanted to reduce human interaction by decreasing the hours at which business and markets operated.
However, he realised that because of the move, more people flocked to markets and business centres to avail the shortened hours.
The prime minister urged people to wear face masks and practice social distancing to stem the spread of the virus.
Answering another question by the same caller, he said Pakistan was trying to produce vaccines locally and in this regard, he would "soon give glad tidings to the nation".
The caller had also asked the prime minister whether he was satisfied with his team of ministers and advisors. In response, PM Imran Khan gave the analogy of a cricket team, saying that out of a team of 11 players, not everyone can perform exceedingly well.
"Not everyone can be a superstar," he said, adding that ministers who do not perform will be excluded from the team.
"If the ministers and advisors do not perform, the team will have to be changed," he said.
In response to a question on social media where a person asked the prime minister about the inflationary situation in the country, the prime minister said increased prices of basic commodities bothered him the most.
"I have brought [appointed] Shaukat Tarin solely for two reasons; to bring down inflation and increase growth," he said.
The prime minister then showed a graph, explaining that prices of petroleum products in Pakistan were much lower than those in other countries such as India.
He said food inflation and prices of items of basic necessity had grown manifold around the globe, mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We are not an island; whatever happens in the world effects us as well," he said.
The premier said rising electricity costs were also one reason why prices of food and other items were increasing. He said all contracts relating to the generation of electricity were signed decades ago.
He said due to the contracts signed by the predecessor government with Independent Power Producers (IPPs), the government was making hefty payments for electricity in "capacity contracts" whether the government made use of the electricity generated by these IPPs or not.
The prime minister said there were "small and influential" dacoits in the country, adding that corruption by the latter damages an entire country.
He cited the example of PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif, saying that he was accused of misappropriating Rs7bn. "This is just one case against him' there are many others registered against him [Shahbaz Sharif]," he said, adding that it was just the "tip of the iceberg".
The prime minister said when General (retd) Musharraf gave an NRO to Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, it caused massive economic repercussions for Pakistan.
"I will never given an NRO to any corrupt person," he said. "Not because I want to save my government but because I fear Allah. I will have to give my account in front of him," he added.
The prime minister said sugar baron Jahangir Tareen was of the view that he had been mistreated. "I have never been unjust towards even my enemies, the ones against whom I have been struggling for the past 25 years," he said.
He clarified that though he will not subject anyone to unjust treatment, the prime minister vowed not to let anyone off the hook who were involved in hoarding sugar prices.
PM Imran Khan said the Sharifs and Zardaris did not pay taxes on sugar neither and hiked prices of sugar whenever they wanted.
"I promise you, no one [who is guilty] will be allowed to go scot-free but also, no one will be mistreated," he said, referring to Tareen's allegations.
Responding to a caller, the prime minister condemned atrocities committed by Israel against unarmed Palestinians, regretting that violence had taken place on the holy night of Ramadan 27 and at Al-Aqsa mosque.
PM Imran said he had directed FM Qureshi to speak to the foreign ministers of Turkey and Saudi Arabia to galvanise support for the Palestinians and speak out against atrocities being committed against the Palestinians.
"One country cannot do anything alone," he said. "When a large group of Muslim countries band together, then it will make a difference and we are trying to do that," he added.
PM Imran Khan said he had also spoken at length with the Saudi crown prince over rising incidences of Islamophobia, adding that Pakistan will try to gain collective support from the Muslim countries to battle this issue as well.
In response to a question as to why there was no rule of law in Pakistan, the prime minister said the powerful and the weak should both be equal before the law.
He said it would take time for change to take shape in Pakistan, adding that expecting the country to be reformed overnight would only lead to disappointment.
"I can't turn on a switch and rivers of milk will flow," he said.
He credited Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) with establishing the State of Madinah where everyone was equal before the law.
The prime minister shared the example of Germany, Japan and other states who were destroyed after World War II but managed to stand on their own feet within a span of 10 years.
"Countries are destroyed when the heads of governments steal money in the billions and send them abroad," he said.
He said unfortunately, Pakistan's democrats had not been honest with the nation, citing the example of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, alleging that he had had the Supreme Court attacked with stick-wielding thugs back when he was the country's prime minister.
PM Imran Khan then spoke against the various cartels and mafias in the country, saying that they were benefitting from a corrupt system in the country.
The prime minister said fighting the status quo and mafias was the only reason he had become a politician in the first place.
"You all [Pakistanis] have to stand with me in this war," he said. "And Insha'Allah, I will win this war."
In response to another caller, the prime minister said it was a fact that most of the Western countries and their media, used human rights issues to promote their foreign policy objectives rather than provide justice to victims.
Speaking on India's efforts to counter Chinas a growing military and economic power, he said it was a futile effort on New Delhi's part, adding that India will suffer in the process.
He addressed concerns by Kashmiris of Pakistan returning to the negotiating table with India, saying that till New Delhi did not reverse its August 5 decision of scrapping Article 370, the government of Pakistan will not hold any dialogue with it.
One caller complained about the ill-treatment meted out to him by foreign embassies to which the prime minister spoke about his recent public criticism of embassies.
PM Imran Khan praised Pakistan's embassies and their staff members, saying that they had rendered great services for Pakistan, especially when it comes to highlighting the Kashmir issue in front of the entire world.
The premier said he had directed embassies to start online services to overseas Pakistanis can register their complaints at a portal which will be set up under the supervision of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
He said embassies have been directed to solve two issues relating to overseas Pakistanis; to solve problems and issues raised by the Pakistani diaspora abroad and to facilitate Pakistanis abroad in investing into the country.
The premier is undertaking the initiative as part of the programme “Aapka Wazir- e-Azam Aap Kai Sath” which began its live telecast from 1:30 pm on PTV.
The public can call and speak to the prime minister dialling 051-9224900. The live interaction will be aired through radio and other social media platforms.
The prime minister has been regularly appearing in live TV programmes, enthusiastically joined by people from every walk of life who frequently pose different questions about national, global and other common issues.
These questions are then answered by the prime minister, sometimes with the help of some members of his cabinet.