–PM says those talking about him being ‘selected’ were ‘themselves manufactured in nursery of military dictatorship’
–PM quotes former US state secretary Condoleezza Rice, says US helped Sharifs get NRO
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan finally broke his silence on the word ‘selected’ used for him by the opposition, saying the ones whose political career was “manufactured in the nursery of military dictatorship” are calling him ‘selected’.
He was addressing the last sitting of the budget session in the National Assembly, a day after the finance bill was approved by the House amidst strong protests of the opposition parties.
Quoting from a book by former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, the prime minister said the cases against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif were quashed at the behest of the US during the tenure of former military strongman, General Pervez Musharraf.
“The Americans collaborated to have the NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance] signed” because it was in their interest, he said, adding that Rice’s account depicted that the opposition who calls him selected now was nurtured in the hands of the establishment.
He said her account showed that “those talking about ‘selected’ were themselves manufactured in the nursery of military dictatorship”.
Imran was addressing an empty house after the opposition boycotted the session over a ruling by the speaker that sanctioned the proceedings to continue despite a lack of quorum.
He also took a jibe at Shehbaz Sharif, saying the NA opposition leader gave a speech about rupee devaluation, though he failed to tell that the dollar soared because the previous government had left $19.5 billion in account deficit, largest in Pakistan’s history.
He said a major reason for the shortfall of US dollars in the country was the money laundering carried out by the ruling elite of the country in the past.
He accused the Zardari family of using hawala and hundi to launder money. The Sharif family did so by means of Hill Metal Establishment and Hudaibiya Paper Mills, he added.
He said how could the opposition leaders talk about the dollar when they were themselves responsible for the current economic crisis.
He also brought up Shehbaz’s chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), saying a man accused of corruption in mega projects was made the head of the apex accountability body.
He revealed that the government will now launch a full-fledged crackdown on money laundering and the loopholes previously used for the crime would be closed.
The premier congratulated members of his government and allied parties for their participation in the budget session and “for delivering quality speeches”, especially Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar.
He lauded his [newly installed] economic team for bringing down the current account deficit by 30 per cent.
Amid reservations that the budget would adversely affect the working class, he said the government will ensure that the difficult time is borne by those who can afford it. He also touted PTI’s social welfare projects, like Ehsas.
Amid reports that Pakistan Army’s budget saw no increase, the PM thanked the military.
“Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa especially told me that the [army] desires that the money saved should be spent on Balochistan and tribal districts,” said Imran.
OPP REJECTS HIKE IN ECP EXPENDITURE:
The National Assembly earlier in the day voted on supplementary grants of previous years.
Members of major opposition parties, including the PPP and PML-N, objected to increased expenditures of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the past year.
Former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the ECP had “failed to hold transparent elections [even though the government provided] them an additional amount of Rs20 billion”.
“Last year’s elections were controversial. The people and international institutions have not recognised them. It is unfortunate that we are unable to hold transparent elections,” he said.
He also questioned the decision to deploy troops inside polling stations during the upcoming elections in tribal areas.
The opposition tried to disrupt the proceedings by pointing out lack of quorum while the assembly was voting on supplementary grants but the bid failed as Munazza Hassan — presiding over the sitting in the absence of speaker and deputy speaker — declared the house in order after a head count.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, in an informal conversation with some reporters, said that the “ailing economy can only be healed by holding midterm elections”.