ISLAMABAD - Apparently looking upset with the criticism by his opponents on the first eight months’ performance of his government, Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday said that opposition parties launched criticism because of fear of being exposed in corruption and plundering cases.

Imran Khan said Pakistan would sail through the difficult times and become a developed nation of the region.

Addressing a ceremony held at the Jinnah Convention Centre to celebrate the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf(PTI)’s 23rd Foundation Day, the PM said that all political parties had gathered to say that PTI government had failed to deliver though they themselves were responsible for the present rising inflation in the country.

A large number people, including PTI leaders, party supporters and activists, ministers, and other government functionaries had gathered at the centre amid tight security measures.

The PTI which was founded by Imran Khan himself in Lahore on April 25, 1996 had decided to commemorate its 23rd Foundation Day — the first after coming to power — with full zeal ad fervour.

Khan, who is also the chairman of ruling party said that his political opponents were talking about holding a protest march in Islamabad against the government and from the very first day, they had started a rhetoric that the government had failed to deliver. “This is because that Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is unearthing their corruption cases everyday and we are getting information about them from foreign countries under the anti-money laundering laws,” he said. He added that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shehbaz Sharif and his two sons, Hamza Shehbaz and Salman Shehbaz, have been found allegedly involved in money laundering after they came into power. He accused that the same money changer had been sending ill-gotten money to both brothers and Co-chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari.

“They want to topple the government quickly to save the money they have amassed abroad,” PM said. They only want some deal like National reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) like NRO. “This NRO could not be given now because the previous two NROs given by retired General Pervez Musharraf to PPP and PML-N separately caused to balloon up the country’s debts from Rs6,000 billion to Rs30,000 billion.”

Prime Minister Khan talking about his reforms package said his government has launched – “Ahsas”—the biggest ever poverty alleviation programme in the country. “What has been left in the country for that person who sits on the side walk,” he said. He said that they were getting help from China in this poverty alleviation programme. Secondly, the government has started housing programme to build 50 million houses for the poor, new tourism policy has been launched to promote tourism in the country. He said that PTI was going to introduce new local government systems in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said that agriculture reforms were being initiated and China has also included this sector into China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Project. He said that Pak-China University was being established at the PM House where China would help Pakistan to transfer technology including artificial technology.

The PM also reminded that only two weeks have left to get the results of the offshore drilling being carried out by a foreign company. He appealed to the people to pray that Pakistan might get large reserves of natural gas as a result of this drilling.

Imran Khan admitted that the people were facing difficulties due to inflation but hoped that the country would soon come out of crisis as a result of the reforms agenda introduced by this government. “I have struggled for 23 years to fulfil my responsibility towards the Pakistani people,” he said adding that people should understand what this struggle was about. “Struggle is never a straight journey, there are highs and lows.”

Giving example of leadership of different countries, he said it was the duty of ruler of any country to uplift the country that could not be done in the past in Pakistan. He said that 13 years longs struggle of Last Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in Makkah gave him the courage to struggle and they have to follow the principles of state of Madina to develop the country. He said that he was soon laying the foundation stone of a university in Sohawa area of district Jehlum where not only science subjects would be taught but it would hold research on the life of Last Prophet so that people could learn lessons from it.

The PM also gave a comparison of economic indicators of PTI government with the previous governments and said that everyone while sitting on TV was unnecessarily criticising PTI for rising inflation. He also on a lighter note clarified his earlier remarks—sahiba (madam)—he had used for PPP Chairman Bilalwa Bhutto Zardari and said that Bilawal Sahib (sir) was also part of this criticism. “Some time, man commits mistake,” he said referring to his earlier remarks that had elicited an outcry from opposition parties. “During the first eight months, inflation of pervious PPP and PML-N regimes remained at the rate of 21.7 per cent and 8 per cent respectively while the inflation is at the rate of 6.8 per cent during the same period of our government,” he said. We were asked that Shehbaz Sharif remained the best ever chief minister in Punjab, he said. There was 1100 billion rupees current account deficit in Punjab when PTI took over there while the party left 40 billion of surplus in KP during its last tenure,” he said. He concluded that difficulties would remain there till reforms agenda was not implemented in letter and spirit.