ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that Islamabad would not engage in dialogue with New Delhi unless it retreats from its August 5, 2019 decision on Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K).
The remarks from the prime minister came when he was responding to a question regarding human rights abuses in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and a muted response from the international community during a live question and answer session with the masses.
“Unless India retreats from the steps taken on August 5 and the statehood imposed on IIOJ&K, the Pakistani government will not talk to India at all,” he maintained.
It’s unfortunate that the western media and countries raise the issue of Kashmir only to pursue their foreign policy objectives, he said, adding they want to see a powerful India to tackle the growing prowess of China.
“It’s quite foolish to think that India would stand up to China because it would only result in India’s destruction,” he declared.
In response to a question while putting forth several statistics about economic growth in the country, the prime minister said that there is a rise in exports, industrial output and record sales in other sectors.
“If we continue to progress, we can achieve prosperity…we’ve facilitated farmers through Kissan Cards and we’ll assist them in terms of seed development,” he added.
Responding to another caller, he reiterated that Pakistan cannot progress unless there is an equal law for the powerful and the weak, saying supremacy of law is the only way forward.
The countries are destroyed when the people at the helm of affairs are involved in loot and plunder, he said, adding in the past Nawaz Sharif attacked the Supreme Court, while the PTI government doesn’t interfere in the matters of the judiciary.
“The corrupt mafia doesn't want the law to prevail and so they are creating hurdles in its way,” he regretted.
Regarding the usurping of state land, he said the government has got freed 21,000 acres of land amounting to Rs27 billion.
Replying to a caller on estranged Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Tareen’s case, he said: “There won’t be any injustice with anyone, but I promise the masses that I won't spare the sugar barons. I won’t grant them an NRO [national reconciliation ordinance].”
When one of the callers asked the prime minister whether he was happy with his ministers, he said that several ministers and advisers are doing a pretty good job. He, however, quickly added to his remark by saying that all those whose performance is not up to the mark would go home.
“I’ve 11 players in my team [and] some of them are very good. If [the ministers] are not good, they will be thrown out of the team,” he added.
Expressing his resolve to eradicate the menace of corruption, he said that ‘we have to win this fight – the fight for the rule of law as it’s the only way forward for survival of the country’.
To a question, he said that there were two types of thieves, those who stole on a smaller scale while others, like officeholders who stole on a much wider scale.
He said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and the opposition leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif had a money laundering case worth Rs700 billion against him.
“This is just one case, the authorities have a whole book containing cases against worth billions of rupees against him…the only time (the stolen) money comes back is when one of the wives or sons have to buy a house. Now, if you gather all Pakistani prisoners who have stolen, all their thefts combined won’t be equal to Rs700bn,” he added.
He claimed that because of the two NROs given by the then president Pervez Musharraf to Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, the country's loans had ballooned from Rs6 to Rs30 trillion.
“This is what has destroyed the country. I have always said I would never give an NRO and I am saying it again today,” he maintained.
Responding to a call by an overseas Pakistani regarding the role of embassies and consulates, Khan said that the embassies and Foreign Office had done "splendid work in terms of diplomacy".
Referring to his talk with Pakistani envoys last week in which he had employed a strong tone while asking them to take care of overseas Pakistanis by pulling their socks up, the premier said that he felt the ‘entire programme should not have been broadcast live’ and only excerpts should have been shared.
“It seemed like I was castigating the entire Foreign Office. That is not true. They are doing a splendid work,” he added.
Talking about the steps his government would take, the premier said that all embassies had been directed to establish online complaint systems while a portal was also being created under the supervision of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
“All the complaints that were not solved by the embassy would be forwarded to a special officer working under the foreign minister,” he added.
He identified two areas where he said embassies needed improvement – consular services and economic efforts aimed at attracting foreign investment, adding that overseas Pakistanis would be put in touch with the Ministry of Commerce to inform them about investment opportunities in the country.
Replying to a question about violence in Jerusalem, the prime minister said he condemned the atrocities committed on the Palestinians by the Israeli forces at Al Aqsa mosque and had asked Foreign Minister Qureshi to immediately talk to his counterparts in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
He said Pakistan was trying to bring together Muslim countries to discuss the situation in Occupied Jerusalem as well as how to tackle Islamophobia.
Earlier, the prime minister appealed to the masses to adhere to the precautionary standard operating procedures (SOPs) on Eid.
“We’ve successfully dealt with the first two waves of Covid-19 and now we should do the same to avoid a situation that is obtaining India,” he added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021