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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday lauded his government’s economic management, saying he is ready for a debate with media, economists, and opposition parties over his party’s three and a half years’ performance.

Speaking at PTI Overseas Convention, he said that “nobody served the country like his party did, as the opposition parties had been taking turns in governing Pakistan during the last 30 years but the PTI government would prove that it had brought improvements which no other party had.”

“I challenge the entire opposition to compete with us in anything. We are ahead of you...our government tried for the first time to elevate the lower class, there were no attempts in the past,” he added.

The prime minister claimed the entire nation was ready to go down with him rather than supporting the opposition, as he slammed the Opposition amid rising political tensions due to the no-confidence motion.

‘I’m not worried at all,’ insists PM

In the same breath, he continued that Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman ‘sold religion’ for 30 years, but on the contrary, during his 3.5 years, Russian President Vladimir Putin said you could not disrespect Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the name of freedom of expression, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had given a statement against Islamophobia.

The prime minister said that there had been a debate at the United Nations and a resolution would be passed against Islamophobia. He claimed it was due to his government as it raised the issue at various fora.

Ridiculing three opposition politicians – JUI-F chief Rehman, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari — as “three stooges”, he quipped that he was thankful to them for filing a no-trust motion against him that had “lifted his party”.

He said that he has told his party members that the opposition’s no-trust move was a blessing as it had lifted the entire party and now everyone was heading to the capital for the PTI’s rally at D-Chowk on March 27.

“I was thinking of how the country changed suddenly in 10 days, inflation was forgotten and my entire party was lifted,” he said, while referring to the no-trust hype.

All the opposition politicians, he added, used to call each other corrupt, adding “I’m thanking them for coming together, so the nation could see that if they are the ones to save Pakistan, it is better to drown with Imran Khan”.

He said that PTI had risen from the grassroots which is why the opposition parties could not compete with it, adding the history of Zardari and Nawaz Sharif is not like that of the PTI.

“Nawaz became the chief minister through General Jilani; Shehbaz, who used to give bribes to get his work done; Zardari became the president by showing a fake paper; Fazl has been selling religion for the last 30 years,” he asserted.

“This is a difficult time and people are facing difficulties due to inflation but they (the opposition) misunderstood and thought people had forgotten about their corruption and they fell into the captain’s trap,” he said, asserting that the opposition would fail not only in making the no-confidence resolution successful but also in 2023 general elections.

Addressing overseas Pakistanis, he said he was aware of their difficulties and contributions. He said that they were also pained when they see their country is not progressing and its leaders are instead looting money and building palaces in London.

Prime Minister Imran then again criticised the opposition, alleging that they were afraid of angering the West and losing their looted money the same way Russian oligarchs were – referring to sanctions imposed by Western countries on assets of Russian citizens following the invasion of Ukraine.

“You saw the Pakistani prime minister sitting before former US president Barack Obama and “kanpain taang rahi hain”. They are afraid of angering the West...because they know those countries can confiscate their laundered money whenever they want,” he added.

He said that hundreds of drone strikes had been conducted in Pakistan during the governments of Nawaz Sharif and Zardari, and the PTI leaders had staged sit-ins to protest but they had no shame.

“You [Nawaz and Zardari] should have at least said that no law in the world allows anyone to play the role of judge, jury, and executioner,” he said, stressing “never have I been anti-America, anti-Britain, anti-India”.

Only an uneducated man would be against a country, he elaborated, adding that he was against their policies.

He also mentioned India’s Hindutva policy, expressing the wish that a better government comes to power in the neighbouring country that would grant rights to Kashmiris.

PM Khan said that the government had given overseas Pakistanis the right to vote because they were an asset, adding they should also contest elections and participate in the country’s politics because the country was running on their remittances.

“I have told my missions and ambassadors to make life easier for overseas Pakistanis,” he added.

Moving on to praise overseas Pakistanis, he thanked them for supporting the country and sending a record remittance through which the state was running its economic affairs.

“But when overseas Pakistanis, who are working hard abroad, see these corrupt politicians enjoying parties and living in palaces in foreign countries, they are hurt,” he lamented.

Talking about the government’s development and social initiatives, he said that the PTI launched health cards for the underprivileged people – the like of which was “not available” even in the United States.

He said after a 50-year hiatus, dams were being built in the country. “In the last 50 years, no dam was built. Mohmand Dam will be built in 2025, Dasu in 2026, and Basha Dam in 2028 will help us save more water.”

Speaking about the army, he said the Pakistani military was the reason behind the country’s stability, as he gave an example of other Muslim-majority countries — Libya, Syria, and Yemen — where the situation was dismal.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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