–Premier says compromise on corruption cases tantamount to treason against country
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday reiterated that he will never grant amnesty to the Opposition, saying that “they are wrong if they think they can pressurise me”.
The premier made the comments while speaking to actor Hamza Ali Abbasi during an interview on a private news channel that covered a myriad of topics, including his own spiritual journey and his thoughts on Western culture.
Calling the 11-party alliance “union of crooks”, the PM said the opposition parties have been blackmailing the government since day one to grant them amnesty. He maintained that the NRO given to the opposition by former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf had had disastrous effects on the country, leading to an increase in debt liabilities.
“If I want to let them go, then I should open up our jails.” he said, adding that he would “give up his seat but not give [the opposition] an NRO”.
Commenting on the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) upcoming rally in Lahore on December 13, the premier said that the government has decided to not grant them permission for staging the demonstration.
“Cases are increasing rapidly […] those putting up the sound systems and chairs, FIRs will be registered against them.” However, PM Imran made it clear that the government would not stop the opposition from participating in the rally.
“We will not stop them so that they can’t [act] dramatic and assume the role of revolutionaries [and] try to become Joan of Ark or Che Guevara.”
He maintained that the government had cancelled its rallies and public gatherings after the country witnessed an uptick in Covid-19 cases.
“We have once again started stressing on standard operating procedures (SOPs) for curbing the spread of the virus. But if this union of crooks thinks that this jalsa will put pressure on me, then they are wrong. No one has organised rallies as big as the PTI.”
He added that he will leave the office of prime minister but will never betray the country by giving relief to the opposition.
When asked about the many issues being faced by Karachi, the premier said: “The situation with Karachi is very strange. Parties win votes from interior Sindh and come into power in the province. So they only focus their energies on the vote bank in interior Sindh and Karachi is left behind.”
He said that the federal government had announced the Karachi Transformation Plan to address the immediate issues being faced by the city and its residents.
“We don’t have the powers. The money from the federal government goes to the province and they decide where to spend it. But the transformation plan is exclusively for the city and all stakeholders are working on it together.”
The premier also touched on the two biggest problems being faced by the country, namely fiscal debt and diminishing exports.
PM Imran said that unless we make people pay their taxes, we can never become a modern country. “We are among those nations that give the littlest amount in taxes”. He said that when the government checked the data of the country’s tax payers, it discovered that there are 2.5 crore people who don’t pay taxes.
He added that diminishing exports were another problem the country was facing. However, now the country’s trajectory was changing due to the efforts made by the government, he said.
“For the first time now after the 1960s, we are going towards industrialisation,” he said, adding that this was key to making the country stand on its own two feet.
“If we just fix our tourism sector, we can earn a significant amount. Our northern areas are Switzerland plus,” he said, adding that Pakistan has more religious tourism than Malaysia.
“You have no idea the resources this country has been blessed with. But the problem is that we don’t have any money so we have to carry out [joint ventures]”.
The point is that we have been blessed with so much; if we can harness this potential then we can go back to the development we witnessed in the 60s, he said.