–PM says Pakistani law restricts govt from giving special treatment to convicted prisoner
–Dares joint Opp to stage protest in Islamabad, says Bilawal seemingly unaware that fake accounts case was launched in 2016
–Says govt hopeful of finding large reserves of gas and oil near Karachi
–Says he sees no breakthrough in Afghan peace process until interim govt is installed in Kabul
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday claimed that his government will not allow former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for medical treatment, saying that Pakistan’s law does not allow the government to accord special treatment to one convicted prisoner while denying the same to others.
Talking to a select group of journalists at the PM Office, PM Imran said, “Under which law we can send Nawaz Sharif abroad even if he is granted bail on medical grounds? We have launched a movement to uproot the system for the elites. The opposition wants a separate system for the elite and the poor. We will not allow this to happen. Justice will be one for all and rule of law will prevail,” the prime minister said, adding that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was using Nawaz’s health as a tool to blackmail the government.
He also criticised the former premier for failing to build even a single hospital in 30 years where he could be treated. “The Sharifs had been in power for three decades but they could not build a single hospital for the people whereas they had built 30 factories out of one for themselves,” he said.
He also criticised former finance minister and Nawaz’s close relative Ishaq Dar for allegedly creating a fortune through corrupt practices. “His father used to sell bicycles. Look at him now. He gets his medical treatment in London,” he said.
Imran termed the alliance between Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and PML-N as “an alliance to save looted money”. He lashed out at the joint opposition for protesting in the parliament in order to “blackmail the government into granting them amnesty through a National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO)”.
He added that the government will provide containers to opposition parties at Islamabad’s D-Chowk if they decided to organise a protest demonstration.
“Bilawal Bhutto is making a lot of noise, [but he forgets that] the fake bank accounts case has been under investigation since 2016. Corruption in this country will only end when the major players are held accountable,” he said.
Speaking about the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the premier stated that the organisation is independent of the government and noted that all corruption cases being pursued against leaders of other political parties are ‘old’. He urged NAB to grab the big fishes instead of low-category criminals involved in corruption.
The premier expressed complete confidence over his cabinet, as well as Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
He said that Buzdar could not be compared with former chief minister Shehbaz Sharif because he was not involved in corruption.
Prime Minister Imran also said Pakistan will not need to import oil after reserves are found near Karachi’s seas.
“We are hopeful of finding large reserves of gas and oil in the sea near Karachi. The nation should pray for this and I will soon share good news regarding this.”
“God willing the reserves will be so large that we will not need to import any oil,” he said.
When asked about the possibility of dialogue between Pakistan and India, the prime minister said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “is stuck in war hysteria.” “He has turned hatred for Pakistan into a political campaign,” the prime minister regretted.
He said that Pakistani authorities were on high alert as the country was facing danger from the Indian side till elections.
NO IMMEDIATE BREAKTHROUGH IN AFGHAN TALKS:
PM Khan, while detailing the achievements made on the diplomatic front, said that the United States, which always maintained rhetoric of “do more”, was now praising Pakistan. He said that a message has been received from President Donald Trump but no progress was made so far.
The prime minister said that best-ever results were emerging by recent foreign policies adopted by the federal government. He added that the US has realised the crucial role of Pakistan in the establishment of longstanding peace in Afghanistan. He also said that Islamabad was enjoying the best economic relations with China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey.
Talking about the possibility of a breakthrough in the Afghan peace process, he said that despite Pakistan’s continued support to the Afghan peace process, he sees no immediate breakthrough because the Afghan government is putting forward conditions which are unacceptable to the Afghan Taliban.
The premier said that he had decided to meet the Taliban to persuade them to make efforts for a breakthrough but the Afghan government had objected to it. “I am afraid that there might not be a breakthrough till a caretaker government is installed in Kabul,” he added.
Speaking about the financial situation of the country, the prime minister said that his government had inherited its financial crisis. “The previous government left a record debt behind: they sent the debt soaring to Rs30 trillion. If my government takes on fewer loans than they did, it means we are in the right direction,” he said.
He said that the government had taken steps to stop money laundering. “Our foreign exchange reserves are increasing and investors are coming to Pakistan,” he added.
Talking about the government’s efforts for poverty alleviation, he announced that a comprehensive programme for poverty alleviation will be initiated from March 27.
The prime minister detailed that shortfall of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) was a major reason behind the hike in gas prices as the government purchased 1,400 cubic feet and sold it in Rs650. He added that the faulty transmission lines caused an energy crisis across the country. He revealed that Asia’s largest underwater gas and oil were discovered in Karachi.