ISLAMABAD: With a pledge to go after different cartels and mafias to give immediate relief to the common man, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday asked masses to take part in war against the menace of corruption.
“Imran Khan cannot fight it alone, the society carries on this fight and the judiciary fights it. The National Accountability Bureau, which is completely independent, can frame cases,” he added.
The prime minister said corruption was the real issue, which had permeated in all the poor countries of world and had even shaken the economies of rich ones.
He was answering questions from the masses who were calling in with their queries. The prime minister responded to questions often seeking help from his ministers and advisers, who were sitting in front of him.
Before he started taking calls from masses, the prime minister urged people to help themselves and help the nation by observing Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs).
“I would urge everyone of you to wear this mask,” said the prime minister while gripping one in his hand.
He said that it was the government's responsibility to protect people during the infection. He cautioned people to wear masks in closed rooms where there was no ventilation and in buses and other means of transport.
In response to the first caller, he said Pakistan was importing gas from other countries at exorbitant rates while country’s own gas reserves were on decline.
He said countries progress due to higher education among the masses.
“We also have to think about what sort of high education we have to impart,” he said, adding, “Buildings do not bring about quality education. It also depends on what type of degrees they are handing out to students”.
PM Khan said that the government is bringing about huge changes in the Higher Education Commission (HEC), adding that the previous chairman of the education commission was not selected by the incumbent government.
In response to the second caller who complained about inflation, he said prices of vegetable and other food items were on the rise as the farmers who supplied them wanted their products to be sold at high prices in the market.
"The middlemen are making a lot of money from this," he said.
He said that his government was working towards an ingenuous solution through which they are aiming to connect the primary producers of these items to the final consumers.
He said the masses will see the positive effects of the rupee strengthening against the US dollar, adding that the local currency's performance has already led to a decline in prices of diesel.
The premier spoke against "hoarders and mafias", saying they were responsible for the hoarding of necessary food items in the country. "For the first time, we are going after mafias in Pakistan," he said.
He continued that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) completed its inquiry for the first time to bring to everyone's knowledge how a few people hoard basic food items so their prices skyrocket and they make profits out of it.
Addressing the caller by name, he said: “Ambreen, you need not be frightened over inflation because the government is working towards tackling this solution.”
He revealed the government is working towards revolutionising the agriculture sector so Pakistan is self-sufficient in basic food items and other products.
The third caller raised a couple of questions, among them one related to the health system.
The prime minister said that Pakistan was introducing the health card system due to which people will be able to get themselves treated via insurance at any hospital across the country.
“I assure you, this facility is not extended to people even in developed countries,” he added. He highlighted how the government was bringing about measures in the health sector, including exempting duty from hospital equipment from abroad.
Answering another caller's complaint on corruption, the prime minister said that "corruption was a cancer" which ends up feasting on a country's progress like termites feast on wood.
He said when prime ministers became corrupt and stole billions from the masses, it resulted in money going out from Pakistan into other countries.
Khan cited a UN report, saying that a mammoth total of $1,000bn was sent to developed countries from poor states each year through corruption and money laundering.
"I am one of the few heads of state in the world who is calling upon the developed countries to return our money back to us," he said, adding that the rich countries were reluctant to do so as they were reaping the benefits of it.
He said Pakistan was fighting a war against corruption, adding that a handful of people in the country were being brought to book for their crimes in Pakistan.
"The entire nation will have to fight this war. Imran Khan alone cannot win it," he said, while lamenting that how people shower rose petals at people who get released from prisons after being accused of being involved in corrupt practices.
The prime minister spoke out against shamelessness, saying it was giving rise to temptation in society.
"If you keep on increasing shamelessness in society, every person does not have the will power to control it," he said.
He recounted his experience in London, when "sex, drugs and rock n roll" were just taking a hold in the country.
He said society as a whole will fight this menace too, adding that such shamelessness was giving rise to rapes and other cases of sexual violence.
"Why did I bring Turkish drama series Ertugrul to Pakistan?" he asked, saying that it was entertainment that did not breach any moral boundaries unlike Bollywood and Hollywood movies.
Answering another caller's questions, the PM said that in Pakistan, his party had brought about a democratic change unlike the revolutions in France and Iran.
He said that the PTI had defeated a two-party system in Pakistan and helped new people take up ministries.
The prime minister said previously, the two parties who were at each other's throats, are now on same page and demanding him to step down. "This is the change," he said, adding that now, a government was in place which did not tolerate corruption and was not willing to let the menace go unchecked.
Citing his government's achievements, PM Khan said the rupee had strengthened for the first time in many years. "It means we are doing something right," he said. "Have a bit of patience and this country will take off," he added.
The premier said his government was bringing a new agriculture policy which would ensure Pakistan made a lot of progress.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021