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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday blamed India for Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) terrorist attack, saying 'we have no doubt the neighboring country has a major plan to destabilize Pakistan'.

Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, he said that security forces averted a big tragedy as the terrorists were carrying heavy arms and ammunition to take the people hostage in the PSX and kill them to create an environment of fear and uncertainty.

He said our intelligence agencies were on high alert and it was because of their efforts that four of the terrorist attacks including two in the surroundings of Islamabad were foiled.

About the rumours of 'minus-one', the prime minister somewhat seemed ambivalent and said: "I never said I have no substitute...if I'm not here [no more prime minister], someone from these people [PTI lawmakers] will not spare you".

He called upon the lawmakers of his party to be clear that 'titles and slots are temporary', adding the only thing they should not compromise on is: ideology.

"I never claimed my government will never go. I never said my chair [government] is quite strong. You should not be scared about quitting the power as power is something which comes and goes. And the thing there should be no compromise on is ideology," he added.

Citing the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), given by former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf, he said, his was doing quite well as far the governance is concerned, but the only thing which destroyed him was the two NROs he had issued to 'save the thieves'.

In the same breath, he continued that the opposition wants him to end all the cases against them, but he would not do it as it would like backtracking from the party's ideology.

Rejecting the criticism of the opposition, he said the government has just completed twenty months in office and the opposition is making a hue and cry on the performance of the government as more details of their corruption are surfacing and they want to get away with it.

He attacked the PML-N stalwart Khawaja Asif who has constantly been demanding his resignation. The prime minister said that the man who talks tall should be ashamed of himself for drawing salary in six digits despite being defence, foreign affairs and water and ministry portfolios.

"The issue was not the salary he had been drawing despite holding an important ministry in the country. Now we've got why he's paid hefty salary as it was being given to him for some other purposes," he declared.

The prime minister also ridiculed PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and said the "guy who was installed on mere will of his mother, would never have an idea how much struggle is needed to become head of a party through struggle."

Referring to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's claim of showing receipts of his properties abroad, he said that 'why did he fail to show that receipts which he had shown on the floor of the house' when the apex court sought proof of his foreign assets in the Panama leaks case?

Khan said that Pakistan is currently passing through difficult times but expressed the confidence that it will become an example for the whole developing countries after getting out of the challenge posed by Covid-19.

The prime minister said that special focus is being given to the construction sector and he is personally monitoring it as it will provide job opportunities to the youth.

He said agriculture and small and medium enterprises are other sectors that will be extended full support.

PM Khan said that Covid-19 has dealt a major blow to the economies around the world including Pakistan. He said that Pakistan witnessed a shortfall of one trillion rupees in the revenue collection due to the breakout of pandemic.

He said the only way to control coronavirus is smart lockdown and the world is also accepting this reality. He said there has been no confusion in our policy to tackle the situation arising out of the Covid-19.

He pointed out that cash assistance was given to the deserving families in the most transparent manner. He also hailed the services of doctors and paramedical staff saying they are waging 'Jihad' in hospitals.

He said a programme has been prepared to bring reforms in the institutions including PIA and Pakistan Steel Mills, adding the previous regime changed 11 CEOs of PIA through courts.

"The incumbent CEO [PIA] was also barred from undertaking his duties [by PPP] for months by taking the matter of his appointment to the court," he regretted.

He pointed out that Pakistan Steel Mills was running in profit back in 2008 and now its liabilities stand at Rs250 billion.

The premier made it clear that it is 'our mission to go after the cartels and mafias who are exploiting the people', adding these mafias had the patronage of the previous governments.

Referring to the inquiry into the sugar scam, he said the regulators including Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) were hand in glove with the mafias.

He said that sugar mills were given a subsidy of Rs29 billion but in return they only paid Rs9 billion in taxes. He assured that these mafias will be brought under the law.

He said that there was immense pressure on him not to make PIA and sugar inquiry reports public, but he made it all public, as it was necessary to put an end to this once for all.

PM Khan reaffirmed the commitment to build the country on the golden principles of the State of Madina, saying despite being non-Muslims, the Scandinavian countries look more like the State of Madina compared to us Muslim countries as we have forgotten the golden principles our religion tells us to follow.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020