- Urges masses to observe coronavirus SOPs, says Covid's Delta variant is spreading fast
- Says he has been closely following the Noor Mukadam and Afghan envoy daughter's abduction cases
Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that a smart lockdown is the most viable solution as it will help save the economy from destruction.
The premier made these remarks while answering the public's questions via telephone on Sunday.
Covid's Delta strain spreading fast
Prior to taking the calls, Imran urged the masses to observe coronavirus SOPs, saying the Delta variant is spreading fast.
He maintained that imposing a complete lockdown in the country is not the solution as it will affect the poor-income groups the most. He cited the example of India where the situation worsened after a complete lockdown was imposed in the country.
Referring to Sindh government's decision, he said the province wanted to impose a lockdown, which is the correct decision and will curb the spread of virus. "But on the other hand, the thing to see is that will we be able to save the economy from the lockdown?
"Then there is the issue of hunger ... the daily wage earners and especially the poor section of our society ... how will they make ends meet during the lockdown?
"Therefore, a smart lockdown is the most viable solution," he said. He also stressed people to vaccinate themselves in order to curb the virus.
Answering a question regarding job quotas, the premier said that he would instruct all the provinces to allot job quotas to deserving people.
The prime minister said that leaders who are scared of free media are the ones who are either corrupt or have something to hide. "A free media and freedom of expression is a great blessing for a country," he said.
"It is the role of media to act as a watchdog," he remarked.
He explained he only disagreed with the media when "fake news and propaganda" was spread, referring to the revelations in the EU DisinfoLab report that uncovered an Indian disinformation network against Pakistan.
Noor Mukadam case
To another question about the Noor Mukadam murder case, he said that he has been closely following the investigation from day one, adding that the incident was a very tragic one.
"I must reiterate that no matter how powerful the assailant's family is or whether he is a US national, he is not going to be spared if found guilty," he said.
"It is a heinous case and it has shocked the nation, given its impact. I assure the nation that the accused will not escape the law and will be brought to justice."
He added, "I want to reject the common notion that the accused may escape punishment because they belong to an influential family or have dual nationalities."
"The murderer won't escape punishment irrespective of how powerful they are," the premier said.
He also spoke about the case of the Afghan ambassador's daughter's alleged kidnapping and said that he oversaw the case as if she was his own daughter.
"I commend the police for the job they did in the kidnapping of the Afghan ambassador's daughter's case," Imran said.
To another question, the PM said that earlier, he could not invest time in developing sports in the country but now during the last two years of his government's tenure, he will oversee the development of sports.
Imran Khan said that Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) is the only solution to curb corruption and make the polling process transparent. Citing example of the US elections, he said that former American president Donald Trump also accused the Biden administration of rigging the elections but he could not provide any evidence regarding it.
He said that the EVMs will ensure free and fair polls in the country.
Regarding opposition's claims of rigging in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir elections, the premier said that all those in the government functionary in AJK belonged to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
"The PML-N also lost Sialkot polls," he said. "AJK premier himself alleged rigging in the polls."
To a question on loadshedding, he acknowledged that power outages have made lives of the people miserable. He said that the country's power supply was affected due to water shortages as the dams received 35% less water this year.
Taxes on cars reduced
The premier, responding to a question, said the taxes on cars had been reduced during the FY2021-22 budget, and that he would look into why the rates hadn't decreased so far.
"We had reduced tax on 1,000cc cars so they can be bought at a lower price as common citizens use them, but if the rates haven't been reduced, I will check them," the prime minister said.
The premier forwarded a question related to "own money" (a premium paid to dealers to get the car sooner) to Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar, to which he said: "We have notified the reduced prices to the dealers, but the person has asked about own money, which is a black market menace, as the demand is greater than the supply."
Azhar said car manufacturers were ramping up production to meet the growing demand.
"I believe the gap between supply and demand will end as supply will catch up. It is a good thing that the demand for cars is increasing as it shows that there is economic prosperity," he said, adding that the authorities would crack down on the black market.
The prime minister noted a society where corruption was rife could not prosper, and the nations which had controlled the menace prospered.
A country's economy is destroyed not when there is corruption at the lower levels, but when the nation's prime minister and ministers are involved in the menace, he said.
The prime minister noted the divide between the rich and poor in developing countries was widening with time, as corrupt rulers were stashing away their "stolen" wealth in developed countries.
PM Imran said that those being targeted for their corruption were pressurising the government to be granted an NRO.
"These elements threaten to dislodge a government so that their corruption remains hidden," he said.