Islamabad   -  Prime Minister Imran Khan said clearly while hosting a meeting with a group of prominent journalists on Saturday at Banigala that a sweating section in opposition and media is depicting a picture of “doom and gloom” only to “sabotage his government” and public should not worry about it.

The Prime Minister dressed in dark grey shalwar kameez and now a trademark rosemary in his hand looked comfortable, confident and patient as he listened to hordes of questions and criticism hurled his way. Sitting on his right and left were Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Special assistant on Media Iftikhar Durrani. There was a general consensus among those present that uncertainty was not created by the decision to go to IMF for a much needed and almost imperative bailout package but because of the classic Shakespearean Hamlet to be or not to be procrastination on the government’s part.

“There is no uncertainty about economic situation, there is a clarity that we will need to go to IMF, as a result of the havoc created by the previous government, the only question in front of us is at what terms?” PM Imran Khan said. “We knew from day one we had to borrow this money basically to repay the already borrowed money, it’s a quagmire that we have inherited so there was never an ambiguity. Perhaps we were not so open in communication with you and the public which we will change in time.” He also said that a certain sector in Pakistan is working against his government, most of these people are afraid of accountability and looking for an NRO. “There are two agendas in front of those creating uncertainty, first they want my government to fall which it won’t,” he said with utmost confidence in his voice, “secondly there are some who want to put pressure to get NRO and I will not give them any NRO. There may have been a problem in communication but there is no ambiguity in my mind or my team’s mind.”

At this point certain anchors lamented about the unavailability of his ministers in their shows saying Information Minister was the most readily and cordially available while others “seemed just too busy in their work to answer media”. The Prime Minister smiled, “Look we are forming a communication strategy where certain key persons will be assigned the task to answer your queries and they will be available to answer your questions.”

PM also warned that there are tough few months ahead but once six months are passed Pakistan will be in a strong position. He said those criticising him for going to IMF should be asked what would they have done in his position? PM said there are serious crises looming in front of Pakistan and there is no other choice but to borrow money. Shehzad Iqbal, anchor from Samaa TV pointed that for s good economic growth, one needs to create certainty and a promising environment which seems unlikely by consistently pointing fingers at past government. “It’s a new world,” said PM, “Everyone is available on internet, the whole world knows where we stand, we have nothing to hide. However I promise to be patient for six months and you will see loads of money pouring in Pakistan, we have huge potential.”

At this point Irshad Bhatti from Geo interrupted the Prime Minister and said he doesn’t want to listen to anymore promises, he wants solutions. “I am tired of listening to songs of hope and promise, it’s time to deliver, don’t give us more hopes,” The Prime Minister tried to explain to him what his plan was: “Our housing project will intimately help with GDP, housing contributes largely to GDPs of US and UK, in India it contributes ten percent. In Pakistan, at present it’s less than one, we can work in this area. Secondly strong monitoring of money laundering, we will encourage people to send money via legal means and this will help us raising money too.”

Commenting on increase in price of electricity, PM Imran Khan said it was inevitable as otherwise circular debt will keep on increasing. PM reiterated his government is committed with the cause of accountability and for improving the economic situation of Pakistan. “The plan is to either borrow from friends like China or Saudi Arabia or bring in enough investment to get laxer terms from IMF.” However there was no clear answer to what commitment has been made so far but he said “They were extremely positive.”

As for accountability, PM said it’s very difficult to prove white-collar crime in Pakistan. He also said he has firm faith in NAB but his government will be open to bring in amendments in NAB laws with a consensus with the opposition, however, he added that all the cases running in NAB at the moment are the ones made before he took charge so his government cannot he blamed for those cases.

PM Imran Khan accepted better prosecution could be done by NAB. Talking about his meeting with NAB chairman which was heavily criticised by the opposition, he said it was a formal routine meeting as he came to call on him after taking oath and opposition played politics in that unnecessarily. The Prime Minister also said the previous government has heavily indicted their own machinery in various organisations especially in Punjab and they are working against his government. “I am having huge difficulty in finding depoliticised people in bureaucracy or police,” he lamented.

He said there doesn’t seem to be concrete proof at the moment in certain hyped-up corruption cases so accountability process may take longer but it will not stall. He said his government is working on many plans including bringing remittances through banking, in which they will be following the model of Philippines.

The Prime Minister was also very hopeful about the upcoming by-elections saying that will be the time when democracy will flourish as he plans to give full power to the third tier. “In KP, we empowered local councils and gave them direct funds, that’s the actual model of democracy and we want to follow it across Pakistan. The Prime Minister complemented the chief minister of Balochistan saying his governance model is best to follow at the moment.

“South Punjab province is a reality and I plan to materialise it right after the local body election.” In almost two hour long meeting, prime minister’s main focus was economy and he promised everyone that his government will take Pakistan out of crisis. “Or else you will take a upturn?” someone joked. In a jovial mood, the Prime Minister was quick to answer. “Why do you people make fun on U-turns: in real life if the road you have mapped for yourself could have a blocked road, what should one do then? Hit his head on the blockade or take a turn? At times taking turns is political wisdom and need of the hour,” said the Prime Minister with a smile.

 

 

They are trying to sabotage my govt: PM

 

Fe’reeha Idrees