Sunday Jan 23 2022
Web Desk

I consider Shahbaz Sharif a criminal, not Opposition leader: PM Imran Khan

Web Desk
Prime Minister Imran Khan answering questions during live telephone calls from the people of Pakistan in Islamabad, on January 23, 2022. — Instagram/imrankhan.pti
Prime Minister Imran Khan answering questions during live telephone calls from the people of Pakistan in Islamabad, on January 23, 2022. — Instagram/imrankhan.pti

  • "I want to warn you that If I am forced out of office, I would be more dangerous," PM says to Opposition.
  • Says inflation is a global phenomenon caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it's not confined to Pakistan.
  • Says "giving NRO to Opposition would be akin to treachery, so I will not allow this."

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday criticised PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif and said that he "does not consider him the leader of the Opposition but a criminal."

The premier's remarks came during a live question and answer session that he held with the citizens of Pakistan via phone calls.

"I want to warn you that If I am forced out of the office, I would be more dangerous," the PM said to the Opposition. "If I come out on the streets, you would not even find a place to hide because the public has seen your true colours."

He went on to say that the PTI government will not only complete this tenure but will also complete the next term.

'Inflation not an issue confined to Pakistan'

At the beginning of the session, the premier said that it was his faith that the PTI government will aspire to work on the reasons Pakistan was built: an Islamic Welfare State.

Speaking to a caller regarding the issue of inflation in the country, the premier said: "The biggest challenge we face today is inflation and the rising prices of commodities. I am well aware and cognisant of the issues being faced by the common man due to rising prices.”

The premier then said that inflation is "not an issue occurring solely in Pakistan."

"I want my countrymen to understand that inflation is a global phenomenon caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic," he said. “From industrialised countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, to Europe and Japan, the entire world is faced with spiralling costs of living, a sharp increase in food prices, and a huge spike in energy prices.” 

“Pandemics such as COVID-19 occur once in 100 years, it has had a global negative effect causing spiralling costs of living, and disrupting lives all across the world.” 

'Country progressing despite COVID'

Citing the 5.37% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of the country despite the prevalence of the pandemic, the premier questioned the Opposition, the critics, and the media as to how the country is progressing if there was complete economic turmoil.

"The construction sector is booming in the country and banks have received applications for housing loans worth Rs290 billion, while the government has already granted Rs140 billion to the applicants, which shows the public's trust in the government's policies."

He said that 45,000 housing units are under construction, while the private sector and building developers are constructing three million houses in their 342 projects. 

"Thirty industries are directly linked with the construction sector and are benefitting from this boom," the premier said.

Addressing the media of the country, the premier said that while it is the right of the media to criticise the government so that it could improve, it should refrain from resorting to propaganda and fake news.

"Our government is against mafias, and unfortunately, some elements within the media have also sided with them to spread negativity," he said. 

'Giving NRO to Opposition akin to treachery'

Criticising the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, the premier said: "I don't consider him the leader of the Opposition but a criminal."

"Unfortunately, the Opposition leader delivers two-hour-long speeches in the Parliament levelling baseless allegations on the government but never clarifies the corruption of Rs16 billion in Ramzan Sugar Mills case," PM Imran Khan said.

The premier said that he is ready to talk to everyone — even if their views differ from his — but he is never going to negotiate with the corrupt or allow them to benefit from the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

"If I negotiate with the corrupt Opposition and give them NROs, then I will be deceiving the nation as well as my Allah," he said. 

The Opposition is attempting to take people to the streets against the government, but it should keep in mind that the public will not come out to protect the corruption of political leaders.

The PM said that the PTI-led government wants to remove the gap between the weak and the powerful to strengthen the rule of law in the country.

"The rule of law can be established in the country with the collective efforts of society against the corrupt and the criminals," he said. 

Emphasis on manufacturing goods locally

Answering a question about high taxes on imported mobile phones, the premier said that his government is trying to manufacture everything within the country, saying that manufacturing goods within the country is the only solution as importing goods from abroad is very expensive.

"Even the clothes I am wearing are made in Pakistan. I don't wear anything imported," the premier said, adding that the government is trying to document the economy so that tax collection could be increased and the country's tax net could be broadened.

"If we want to be a progressing nation, we have to pay taxes," he said, adding that the government has compiled the details of luxury vehicles and houses and their owners, so they should pay taxes.

'Four years into govt and he is still only whining': Maryam

Reacting to Prime Minister Imran Khan's statements, PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz took to Twitter and said that it looks like the premier has "accepted his defeat."

"[Imran Khan] sounds like a person who is not only defeated but has also accepted his defeat. 4 years into the govt & he is still only whining. The ‘cartels’ you are complaining about are the MAFIAS on your right & left who have fleeced 220 million & who run your kitchen,' Maryam wrote.

She said that the corruption cases the PTI government filed against Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif could not be proved. 

"The cases you made against Sharifs and PMLN were false & fabricated and were bound to meet the fate they have met. Now that your reality has dawned on the world, do not blame the judiciary. You have only your vindictiveness & revengefulness to blame," she wrote.

"Every word that IK has uttered today reeks of failure, dashed hopes & no faith in his or PTI’s future. This was inevitable man. You are history & the history that we will be taught as a lesson of caution to those who rely more on conspiracy & plotting than peoples power."

She continued: Your dashed hopes @ImranKhanPTI are a new hope for the incompetency & ineptitude stricken people of Pakistan who are waiting for you to spare them the 4-year long ordeal that has cost them their lives." 

Live calls session

Prior to taking the calls, the Prime Minister's Office had provided a landline number for citizens wanting to talk directly to the premier by dialling 051-9224900.

The announcement for the live call session was made through the official Twitter account of the Prime Minister's Office on Saturday.

The prime minister has regularly been taking live calls from people and answering their queries. However, this session was being conducted after a short gap.

Sunday's session was the seventh time PM Imran Khan interacted with the public. The last live session by the premier was held last year on August 29.