LAHORE - Reiterating his stance of not making any compromise on accountability of the corrupt elements, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that mafias at the national level resisted the change to make a new Pakistan.

He said people often ask him where the Naya Pakistan is.  “I am tired of explaining to these people that Naya Pakistan is not a switch,” the prime minister said while addressing the Insaf Doctors Convention here.

“(People expect) a government to come into power, press a switch and everything solves by itself. This only happens in fairy tales. In real life, a reform process comes about as a result of a struggle,” he added.

 In an obvious reference to the opposition coalition, Imran Khan said that all “pickpockets” had united soon after they were made accountable for their corruption.

“But now there is a prime minister who cannot be blackmailed and will make them accountable. This is a defining moment for Pakistan. Like mafias at hospitals, they are also resisting change,” he remarked.

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid and other provincial cabinet members attended the convention.

The Prime Minister said the nation’s collective struggle was a must to realize the dream of a Naya Pakistan by bringing about institutional reforms and ensuring meritocracy. He viewed that it was high time the nation strived collectively, though the rectification of the rotted institutions was even more difficult than building a new one.

Talking about the resistance the government faced to reform the institutions, the prime minister told the audience that the construction of Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Peshawar and its certification by the Joint Commission International was achieved within three years but the reforms in government hospitals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa took even longer.

He said the mafias with vested interests resisted reforms in the hospitals and the people obtained stay orders whenever the government tried to reform the matters.

The prime minister recalled that after nationalization of hospitals and schools, the standard of education and health sectors had deteriorated. However, the country again saw the growth of private schools and hospitals, which were used by the rich class while the government ones were left for the low-income group and consequently the carrot and stick policy at the institutions vanished too.

Even the elite class, which had to bring in reforms, used to get their medical check-up in London, he added.

Imran Khan advised the people to study the State of Madina as a role model which provided the basis of a great civilization. But all that became possible consequent to years of struggle, he remarked. The prime minister said the objective of health sector reforms was never to privatize the hospitals rather enforce meritocracy there through the carrot and stick policy.

Lauding the education, health and police reforms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the prime minister said the people always stood by the one who struggled to improve their living standard. Due to the very reasons, the people of KP had elected the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf consecutively for the second term with a two-third majority.

He said the government would reform the hospitals across Pakistan, which was a time taking process.

The prime minister directed the Punjab government to extend the health insurance card facility to the whole of Punjab like the KP, which, he said, was though a bit reluctant owing to its huge financial implication.

He asked the Punjab government to initially enroll widows, transgenders and all low-income families, and later cover the whole population within a year.

He said the health insurance cover would provide mental satisfaction to the beneficiary family, as in case of any critical illness they would be able to avail medical treatment facility at any designated private hospital.

The prime minister also advised private hospitals not to discriminate between the patients paying them in cash and those availing the Sehat Insaf Card.

He said the Shaukat Khanum Hospital was the only facility in the world providing free medical treatment to almost 75 percent cancer patients.

He said the extension of free medical facilities to the low-income groups would also bring in Allah’s blessings which would also open up new avenues to support the initiative as He had been doing for the Shaukat Khanum Hospital.

Besides providing medical treatment to the poor patients, he said the Sehat Insaf Card facility would also expand the private hospitals network for which the government was also providing incentives like duty-free import of medical equipment and provision of evacuee property land at concessional rates for their building.

Moreover, he said, the government was also striving to maintain the best practices and medical and pharmaceutical standards to boost exports.

The prime minister called for strict adherence to anti-COVID precautions considering the growing cases of coronavirus in Pakistan. The country had witnessed the peak of coronavirus in mid June and the people, particularly the doctors and nurses, played a responsible role bringing pride to the nation.

He said the upcoming two months till November were critical, particularly for the cities with higher pollution and smog conditions like Lahore, Gujranwala and Karachi, and required extraordinary care to avert pressure on the healthcare system.

Referring to the recent wave of Islamophobia originated from France, Imran Khan said he had written letters to the heads of all Muslim states to act collectively for raising the phenomenon of Islamophobia in the world.

He said it was essential to tell the Western and European countries that any blasphemy of Holy Prophet (PBUH) and Holy Quran hurt the Muslims across the world as holocaust did to them.

He said following the republication and display of caricatures in France and similar incidents, the lives of Muslims living in the West and Europe were getting difficult with growing hatred and desecration of women wearing Muslim dresses.

The prime minister said being the opinion makers, the doctors must also struggle and assist him bring change and create an atmosphere in the country to attract the job-seekers here instead of making the people move abroad for jobs.

PM for Phase-wise distribution of health cards

Prime Minister Imran Khan while terming development of health sector and providing basic health facilities to the masses as foremost priority of the government on Wednesday directed for taking effective measures for phase-wise provision of health cards across Punjab.

He was presiding over a meeting here regarding the issuance and distribution of health cards in Punjab.

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Provincial Health Minister Yasmin Rashid, Provincial Finance Minister Makhdoom Hasham, Provincial Minister for Information Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan and senior officers attended the meeting.

The prime minister further said that the provision of basic health facilities to the masses was the characteristic of a civilized society. The provision of health facilities to the poor depicted the true face of good governance, he added.

PM for early completion of development projects

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday directed for early completion of the welfare projects under the local government in Punjab in an effective way so that the people could be facilitated.

He further directed that the projects of supply of clean water, sewerage, public parks and water treatment plants should be particularly focused and initiated across the province as per needs. The prime minister gave the directions while presiding over a meeting here, which reviewed the progress of ongoing development projects at local government (LG) level and the measures being taken for new projects.

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Provincial Law Minister Raja Basharat, Provincial Finance Minister Makhdoom Hasham and Provincial Information Minister Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan, and senior officers attended the meeting.

The Department of Local Government and Community Development officials apprised the prime minister of the projects proposed for addressing the basic issues at district, tehsil and village levels.

PM for provision of all possible facilities to investors

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday directed to provide all possible facilities to investors so that the people’s welfare development projects could be initiated under the public-private partnership.

He said since the present government was putting special focus on the construction sector, enhanced production of cement and its availability at appropriate prices was essential.

The prime minister was presiding over a meeting here regarding industrial development in Punjab with particular focus on the development and promotion of the cement industry.

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Provincial Minister for Information Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan, Punjab Chief Secretary and other senior officers were in attendance.

The prime minister was appreciative of the facilities being provided to investors in the cement industry and directed the authorities concerned that early redressal investors’ problems guaranteed economic development and creation of job opportunities.

PM, CM discuss situation about availability of essential items

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar met in Lahore on Wednesday and discussed the situation regarding availability of essential items in the province.

The matter relating to affordability of prices of commodities also came under discussion to facilitate the common man. Also, Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting on Ravi Urban Development Project and later witnessed the MoU signing ceremony between Bank of Punjab and The Urban Development Authority.