PM decries hue and cry being raised over Shehbaz Sharif’s arrest
LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan said that a hue and cry is being raised over the arrest of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif and that he was instead being accused of resorting to political victimisation.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore, he said the case was ongoing since the last ten months and there were several cases and inquiries against Shehbaz Sharif before. “If NAB was under my control, there will be fifty people in jail,” he said maintaining that it was necessary to recover stolen money and he was even unaware of the extent of corruption in the country.
In fact, PM Khan said that he had a disagreement with the NAB chairman who had stopped arrests and investigations during the interim government as it was supposedly tantamount to political victimization.
He warned those who were claiming that injustice was being done to Shehbaz Sharif that they will be next, and any protests either in the streets or in parliament will be ineffective and no one will be spared.
“It should be clear that no one will be spared. Those who looted the nation mercilessly thinking they can blackmail us with protests they will not be spared.” he said.
“Shehbaz Sharif is pretending to be Mandela,” he further added that only both Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Asif Ali Zardari and the Sharif brothers were in collusion with each other and fought elections together, and a unnecessary hue and cry is being raised if action is taken against one corrupt person.
“NAB is an independent institution, they have even summoned me in a helicopter case,” he said adding that Pakistan is facing one of the worst financial crisis and they cannot provide subsidies, but will instead recover the stolen wealth. He vowed that the nation will see visible change within three to six months.
‘Usman Buzdar is name of change’
The prime minister highly praised Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar who was present alongside him, saying that this was the real change in the province as Buzdar hailed from a region where it was unfathomable to reach such a position.
“Usman Buzdar is the name of change,” he said praising the Punjab chief minister, saying that Buzdar hailed from an impoverished region of Punjab.
He said the there is change as the chief minister cannot go abroad for treatment and there is no hospital in his hometown and so he understands the pain of the poor people and sympathises with them.
He said that Punjab has the highest budget worth over Rs 8000 billion, and the development budget is higher than all other three provinces, but Buzdar will not indulge in any corruption.
“Usman Buzdar is humble, meets everyone, while those before him didn’t even meet their ministers. I wanted a chief minister like him and this is real change for me,” he said, adding that Buzdar will emerge as the most successful chief minister of Punjab.
He said that a government cannot be judged so quickly as the first hundred days are for policy making which started after the passing of the mini-budget and several changes will be visible soon.
He decried that exorbitant rise in debts which increased to Rs28,000bn in 2018 from Rs15000 bn in 2013 and foreign debts increased from $60 to o $95 billion in the same period.
‘Whistleblowers Act’ soon
He said that Pakistan has immense potential which cannot be denied and investors are willing to invest in the country if corruption is eradicated. He said the nation is facing a tough phase and it will be necessary to raise prices as direct tax generation is low and it is necessary to build institutions.
Vowing to eradicate corruption, PM Khan said that there are ten thousand properties abroad which are being investigated, and Pakistanis bought assets worth Rs900 billion in the UAE in the last four years. There have received property deals of 895 properties and issued notices to 300 individuals, he said.
He stated that Pakistan received loans worth Rs35bn in last five years which could have been prevented if money laundering was curtailed and this is now the responsibility of the government.
He further said that government will soon introduce the ‘Whistleblowers Act’ which will give a twenty percent share to those bureaucrats or officers who expose corruption, and they can make billions in a legal way and still remain anonymous under a witness protection program.
He said that corruption and money laundering is being done through fake bank accounts, and they are taking action against all forms of corruption. He said the front man of a politician was arrested in London, illegally encroached lands worth Rs300bn was recovered in Islamabad, and there were be further good news.
Referring to the new local bodies system, he said that Punjab government will cooperate with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and they would also recommend Sindh and Balochistan governments to implement it to help elevate people at the grass root level.
Denying that the present government has any connection with the loans, he said that it may be necessary to go to the IMF but they are exploring other options. He said there will be no need to secure such loans when they come out of the current economic crisis.
He said that Usman Buzdar will serve the province, while his predecessor spent RS650mn on foreign tours and Rs350mn on entertainment, while now the expenditure of the CM House has reduced to Rs800,000. “As long as PTI is in power, Usman Buzdar will be the chief minister of Punjab,” he stated.