HAVELIAN: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday lashed out at the opposition parties for putting on show “a circus on containers” in order to escape accountability.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the Havelian-Mansehra section of the Hazara motorway, the prime minister said that a circus was played on the container at Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) sit-in in Islamabad.
He said that all the opposition leaders, including Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif, were present there to save their corruption and wanted to divert the attention from the crucial issue of Kashmir.
“If there ever was an expert on dharnas, he is standing right here,” he said in reference to himself, before going on to mock the opposition for giving up their protest too soon.
“I had said earlier that I would have agreed to all their demands if they could last a month on those containers. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) protested for 126 days,” he recalled. He also criticised the JUI-F leadership for “hiding” in the comfort of their “warm rooms” while ordinary workers languished in the cold and rain.
He also expressed disappointment at the fashion in which seminary students were “brought” to the protest. Noting that the participants seemed to be unaware of any common purpose of the sit-in, he alleged that Fazl had “used” them for personal gains. He also criticised the JUI-F chief for “using religion” to make money, saying he “issues whatever fatwas you want him to if the price is right”.
“Using religion for personal benefit is the biggest sin,” he declared. “I pray that the Fazl is spared the judgment that is waiting for him in the hereafter,” he added. The premier said that some of his cabinet members were afraid of the outcome of the sit-in but he gave them courage. “The only had an issue with me because they know that I will not forgive their corrupt practices,” he said.
“Even I could make a deal with them as former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf did to pass his four years,” he said, adding that he would not do so as he fears God and the Day of Judgment.
PM Imran blamed the past rulers who took excessive loans for the recent hike in commodity prices. “It is a clear message from my side that I will not forgive this mafia,” he said adding that he knows the masses are passing through testing times but soon it would all be over.
Speaking about the government’s decision of allowing PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif to travel abroad, he said that a majority of the federal cabinet had a consensus that these “thieves” should not be allowed to go abroad but he decided to allow them on humanitarian grounds while only asking for a mere Rs7 billion in indemnity bonds from them.
Speaking more broadly, he said that opposition parties had come to Islamabad to “blackmail” the government to shut pending corruption cases against their leaders. The prime minister, however, reiterated that would not spare “a single corrupt person” in the country. “I will betray my nation if I do so,” he added.
“I do not care about votes, but I do fear God and the hereafter,” he said, adding that the country had been facing financial difficulties because of the said ‘corrupt politicians’.
“My message to all my opponents is that God has trained me for challenges. I know how to win and how to face defeat. And I know how to stand back up after I have been defeated,” he said.
“It is my promise to God that I will not spare a single person who has plundered the nation’s money,” he added.
He also reiterated that he had struggled for 22 years and did not receive the “political party as part of family inheritance”. The prime minister applauded Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Mehmood Khan and Federal Minister for Communication and Postal Services Murad Saeed for completing the project on time. “This road is now part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, which initially comprises of a road and two power stations,” he taunted.
Talking about his government’s activities, the prime minister said that improving health and education sectors are their top priorities. “We have eliminated duty on hospital equipment,” he informed and further said that all-out efforts were underway to improve the education sector in the country.
Referring to the newly constructed section of the motorway, the premier said CPEC will play a pivotal role in the development of Pakistan. He further said the housing project started by government will facilitate forty allied industries, creating a number of employment opportunities. He added that five million houses will be constructed in five years’ tenure of the incumbent government.
“Earlier, CPEC was only a network of roads, but now it has become a project to further improve our industry and agriculture. This land is blessed with many resources, we just have to manage them better,” he added and further said that the focus will not be on investing in human capital. The Hazara motorway is an integral part of the CPEC project which will serve as the central route for commercial traffic between the two countries.
Approximately seven million people, mostly residents of Hasan Abdal, Haripur, Havelian, Abbottabad, Mansehra and Northern areas, would directly benefit from the major thoroughfare. It is also likely to boost tourism and will provide access to Mansehra, Naran valley and Gilgit Baltistan (GB).
Earlier, addressing the ceremony, Communication Minister Murad Saeed said that the western route of CPEC will also be completed soon. He said that the construction of 300 km-long road will begin in February next year.
The minister said that all institutions were facing loss when the PTI government came into power. He said that due to transparent accountability, billions of rupees are being recovered from corrupt elements. He also said that over Rs10 billion have been recovered through audit in National Highway Authority (NHA) and Communication Ministry and deposited in national exchequer..