ISLAMABAD (News10) – Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday came down hard on opposition parties saying said that Pakistan was at the verge of bankruptcy when he came to power.
Addressing the National Assembly session on Thursday, the prime minister while reacting to the criticism by opposition parties that the prime minister and his government was ‘confused’ on how to react to the pandemic, he issued a challenge to detractors.
He said, “I want to challenge you to point out a single contradiction in my statements since we imposed the lockdown on March 13.”
He said that ever since the pandemic broke out in Pakistan, his government faced a lot of criticism for not imposing a complete lockdown across the country, adding that the provincial governments criticised him and said that a stricter lockdown should have been imposed.
Comparing with the Indian government, Khan said that we were being told to impose lockdown like India, but the US newspaper New York Times wrote that the poor were crushed there due to strict lockdown in India, but still coronavirus is spreading fast.
“The whole world is saying that the lockdown caused damage,” he said and added even the developed countries could not bear such drastic measures. We on the other hand has imposed a smart lockdown.
He said: “Next phase in the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic is difficult and urged the nation to strictly follow SOPs to avoid the tough situation.” “If we can get past this month without numbers escalating, the worse could be over,” he said, adding that warning negligence could make matters worse.
The premier once again emphasized the need to create awareness among masses to strictly follow standard operating procedure to prevent spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
He said our health system can cope with the challenge of pandemic if people strictly follow the preventive measures and burden on hospitals will increase if SOPs are not adhered in letter and spirit.
Khan said that it is an obligation on us to protect our elderly and sick people, patients of heart and blood pressure and chronic diseases, adding that Tiger Force has been deployed to convince people to observe SOPs to prevent contagion.
PM Imran said: “The government established National Command and Operation Centre to gather data, get expert opinion from doctors, input from provinces and evaluate world’s trends in dealing with the pandemic. He said now we have verified and updated data about corona patients and availability of necessaries medical equipment, including personal protective equipment, ventilators and beds in hospital.”
“We introduced smart lockdown instead of complete lockdown to protective our people from the disease and hunger,” he said adding that 34 percent people have gone below the poverty line in India due to complete lockdown which vindicate our stance of not going for complete curfew.
Regarding dealing with the locust challenge, the prime minister assured all out efforts will be made to meet the challenge.
He said NDMA has been authorized to make the necessary purchase to control the crop munching pests.
PM Imran has said that Kashmir dispute stands internationalized because of our efforts, adding that the whole world is witnessing the persecution of Muslims in India and Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K).
He said the government has prepared a plan to further raise this lingering dispute at the world level. Expressing concerns over the situation in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, he said India has deployed eight hundred thousand troops in the territory to suppress the Kashmiri people.
Khan said this is unsustainable, adding that the Kashmiris movement for their right to self-determination cannot be stopped and it has reached the point of no return after illegal annexation of Kashmir by abrogating Article 370 of the Indian constitution, scraping special status of the Kashmir state.
The premier said Modi is a fanatic who is involved in persecution of minorities under its RSS inspired Hindutva ideology. He said Modi has committed a massacre of Muslims in Gujarat.
Regarding Foreign Policy of his government, the Prime Minister said today Pakistan enjoys cordial relations with the United States. He said it has been his consistent stances that we will not participate in any US war but will always be ready to facilitate any peace talks.
He said the United States acknowledges Pakistan role in peace process in Afghanistan and we are trying to facilitate in this regard. He said peace in Afghanistan is in the best interest of the region.
Imran Khan also elaborated that Pakistan is also trying its best to improve relations between the Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Comparison with previous govts
Drawing a comparison between performances of his government with the previous ones, the Prime Minister said the present government inherited the current account deficit of twenty billion dollars which has now been reduced to three billion dollars.
He said the borrowing from the State Bank stood at six trillion rupees when PTI came to power but it has been brought down to zero. He said our tax collection witnessed a growth of 17 percent, and non-tax revenue 33 percent before the breakout of the Coronavirus.
He said Foreign Direct Investment rose to 2.1 billion dollars from one billion dollars. During this period, our remittances and exports also registered a growth.
Discussing the way forward, he said the government has decided to give priority to the construction and agriculture sectors, adding that we have given historic package for the construction industry.
Rs32 billion have been allocated to provide affordable houses to the people on low interest rate. He said the government has not cut the Annual Development Program but reduced its non-development expenditure.
The prime minister said the focus is also being given to expansion of industrial sector to revive the industries. For this purpose, duty on thousands of raw materials have been abolished.
Khan said it is also our effort to reopen the tourism sector with SOPs in order to protect the livelihood of the people associated with this industry.