No NRO: ‘I will leave my post but never betray my country,’ says PM Imran Khan


Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday reiterated his vow that he will never grant amnesty to the Opposition, saying that “they are wrong if they think they can pressurise me”.

The premier’s remarks came ahead of the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s rally scheduled in Lahore on December 13.

“The only thing they want is an NRO. I will leave this post but will never betray the country by giving [the Opposition] an NRO,” he said, in a wide-ranging interview to Hum News.

He said that the Opposition does not hold the country’s interests at heart.

Lahore rally

PM Imran Khan said the government has decided that the Opposition will not be stopped from holding the rally “so that they don’t act all dramatic […] consider themselves Che Guavara […] or Joan of Arc.”

“They think they are revolutionaries or super democrats”.

He warned, however, that the government would lodge cases against organisers making arrangements for rallies, which is a violation of coronavirus safety protocols.

“We will file FIRs against everyone — from the kursi wala to the sound system handlers, he said, adding, however: “But won’t stop them [Opposition leaders] from going there.”

COVID-19 response

He said the government had decided to cancel all rallies and a gathering of only 300 people is allowed and indoor dining is banned.

“And this is also be reviewed and may also be banned,” said the premier, adding that it depends on the coronavirus situation in the coming days.

Society’s role in eradicating corruption

The prime minister spoke at length about corruption and the role the society must play in its eradication.

Citing the Holy Quran, the prime minister said that “a corrupt man can never be viewed through the same lens as an honourable man”.

He said journalists went to the High Court and asked that Nawaz Sharif’s speeches be allowed to air under the “freedom of speech” argument.

“Here is a man who has been charged with corruption of billions of rupees and taking the wealth abroad. The Supreme Court sentenced him after a year-and-a-half of investigation […] a JIT was formed. And there are more cases against him.”

“And these people, they believe all the politicians are the same (and so must be treated equally). Even if one is a good man, he will be lumped with the other crooks this way,” he said.

He said corruption is not rooted out like this. The whole society has a role to play.

The prime minister, citing an example, said when a minister close to former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew was caught, he “committed suicide out of shame”. Citing examples of American and British societies, he said people found guilty of corruption no longer have any standing in society.

“They know that a fate similar to what the media did to Ishaq Dar awaits them.”

He said for eight months he provided a money trail to the court, as a cricketer and not a public office holder.

“These people have billions in properties that were accumulated when they were in power.”

“The media wants them to be treated [fairly] but there is no holding such people equal to others,” he said, saying that people of far less serious crimes were also languishing in jails and so there can be “no pardoning for people of such crimes”.

Pakistan could learn from Britain’s parliament

The premier also spoke highly of the British parliament and how Pakistan can borrow many lessons from it. 

“They prepare their discussions before going. People held debates for years on the issue of Brexit.

“In our parliament the Opposition never lets us speak. They have no interest in the issues of the country,” said PM Imran Khan.

He said that if parliamentarians could just come well-prepared, they could develop consensus on economy, foreign policy, and the COVID-19 crisis.

“With a debate in the parliament, the thought process goes forward and it ultimately helps the government,” the premier said.

He said the Opposition, only hold on fast to their NRO so the debate “never goes anywhere”.

Speaking on the NRO further, he said the Opposition remained in power for 30 years and Musharraf gave them an NRO. “And now they want the same from me.”

The prime minister said the Holy Prophet forgave everyone when Makkah was conquered but on the issue of corruption he said he will not even forgive his own daughter Fatima.

Karachi, Balochistan and other neglected areas

The prime minister also spoke about the areas that were neglected by past governments and what his government is doing for their uplift.

He said parties win with votes from interior Sindh “and then don’t do anything for those areas”.

The premier said though a package has been announced for Karachi the federal government does not have the authority to oversee spending because it goes to provincial government to spend.

“We alone do not have jurisdiction so we have to work together and we are doing that”.

He said in Karachi the only permanent system that can do good for the city is that of a local government.

“Until it is a self-sustaining system” the situation will not improve. “PSDP spending will never be enough,” he added.

He said similarly, parties don’t come into power from votes in Balochistan so it always remains neglected and the same is the case of the tribal areas.

The prime minister said now funds have been set aside for these areas and “big packages” have been designed.

Media content

PM Imran Khan said very few people in the media industry hold the interest of putting forth content for the reformation of society. He said due to this factor and because there is the notion that Western content must be emulated, the content for mass consumption is leading to “ills in society”.

He said that when he called over the inspector-generals of police of Punjab, KP and Islamabad and overviewed the crime chart, sex crime was the worst statistic he saw especially rape-murder of children.

“And it remains under-reported.”

“We have brought a new Ordinance under which we will give these criminals exemplary punishment. But punishments alone never solve such issues,” he said, urging people to play their part in making good content become mainstream.

He spoke of children being drawn into the wrong sort of content online.

The premier said when he imported Ertugrul, it shot through the roof in popularity. “So we need to just provide them an alternative.”

He said nowadays he has seen a rise in “dumbing down” of content and quality productions are hard to find.

The right role model

The premier also spoke about the importance of having the right role model to follow, and he said that we all grew up having various role models ranging from cricketers, to pop stars to film stars, but the greatest personality one can follow is Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

He said with this in mind, for students of Grades 8-10, a Seerat-e-Nabi subject will be made part of the curriculum beginning next year.

PM Imran Khan said a PhD in Seerat-e-Nabi will also be offered, alongside a doctorate in Sufisim.

Uniform education system

Speaking of the uniform curriculum and whether it will see the light of day, the premier expressed the hope it will be introduced next year.

He said madressah students will study their own subjects as well as other subjects and credited Shafqat Mehmood for his hard work in having madressahs agree to this. 

He said this mainstreaming of a uniform will “God-willing be introduced next year”.

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