He said that he never made excuses of not being prepared

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that the corrupt opposition cannot run campaign for public as their entire movement is for National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

In an exclusive interview with Kamran Shahid in Dunya News program “On the Front”, he said that he never made excuses of not being prepared but talked about being briefed before assuming office as the prime minister. 

Crisis

To a question whether he was aware of the situation of the country when he claimed to turning the fate of the country after becoming PM, the prime minister said: “I was fully aware of the country’s crisis. I have told in my previous interviews that there were no easy solutions to the country’s problem. The country was under the debt of 6000 billion in 60 years but the country’s debt reached to 30,000 billion during the last 10 years of the previous governments.”

Preparation to govern

Clarifying his statement regarding his preparation, Imran Khan said that his statement was taken out of context. He gave an example of the US president-elect Joe Biden who was being given briefing by every govt departments and when he would assume office, his entire team would be ready to tackle the challenges being faced by their ministries. In contrast, "When I came into power, I came to know that the PIA was under 450 billion debt and the steel mill was shut down due to its 3.5 billion debt and the PSM employees had filed cases due to which the investors didn’t show their interest in investing. “I was of the view that the presentations would be helpful before coming into power and when you assume office, you would immediately start work,” he added.

Economic Crisis

To another question regarding criticism on him over his claims that he had a team who could steer the country out of crisis, PM Imran Khan said that no one even thought what his government has done during the past two years. He said: “Pakistan’s major problems were its historical fiscal and current account deficit and last not the least but the country’s debt which rose four times during the tenure of previous governments, adding that the half of the income collected through taxes goes into paying the debt installments.”

“A newly elected government should be given at least four weeks to get briefings from govt departments so better preparation to govern the country,” he added.
The prime minister said after 17 years, Pakistan’s current account balance has been positive for the last five months, adding that the country’s exports and imports have also increased while remittances have also increased due to the benefits given by the state bank.

Coalition Govt

Responding to a question regarding forming a coalition government, the PM said that he had said in his interviews in the past that he would prefer to sit on the opposition benches than to form a coalition government with the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). “We had to form a coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but the province that never gave anyone another chance to rule, gave the PTI another chance to rule.

PM Imran Khan said that accountability would have been difficult had they forged an alliance with the PPP or the PML-N who had ruled the country for over 35 years. "It becomes easy for a prime minister to run the government if he gets a presentation before assuming it," he added.

The prime minister said that his quarrel was with the terrorist MQM founder and there was no enmity with the MQM if it had dissociated itself from its founder.

Opposition

Imran Khan said that the opposition should decide whether I am a puppet or a fascist. The Army will support the government which will do work for the country," he added.

Answering a question, he said that the federal cabinet had asked for an investigation against former federal minister and PML-N leader Khawaja Asif. We knew that Iqama was a way of money laundering and Asif was receiving cash from Dubai.

Regarding ex-Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah’s drugs case, the PM said that Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) not the government made the case against the PML-N leader but asked the ANF DG of the case was made on merit. “I do not interfere in the work of institutions,” he said and added the ANF is still saying that the case is fine.

Govt Team

To a question if he is satisfied with the team, their performance and reshuffling in the cabinet, the prime minister said that changes in the cabinet or bureaucracy becomes irrelevant whether Imran Khan raised the living standard of the people and my goal is to raise the living standard of the public, eradicate poverty, improve justice system during his five year tenure.

“You get a mandate for five years. I will not commit to not change my team. I am captain and always kept changing the team. I have to win the match. I have to make Pakistan win,” the prime minister said and added his goal was to make a common man recognizes uplift in his living standard, justice system and steering them out of poverty after five years.

Calling him a prime minister of common man, not elite class, he said the first two years were very tough. “These were the most difficult years of my life. I have very good feeling. Insha Allah, my instinct is saying that 2021 will bring about a very good time for Pakistan,” the prime minister remarked.

Merit and favouritism

Responding to a question regarding favouritism in govt, the premier said that we have to make compromises to achieve our goals but a compromise on ideology cannot be made. The PM also gave an example of recognizing Israel to compromising with the ideology of Pakistan.

Jahangir Tareen

Speaking about former PTI leader Jahangir Khan Tareen, Imran Khan said that he [Tareen] had a position in the party but when he was disqualified by the Supreme Court, his position officially ended. The premier went on to say that the Tareen’s role in his government was only advisory, as he is considered an expert in modern agriculture but as soon as the inquiry against him begins, we removed him from all responsibilities. An inquiry is being held against him on merit.

Public office holders Corruption

The PM said that corrupt public office holders should receive harsher punishments as compared to civilians and businessmen as they are guilty of abusing their power. He said that when the head of a government is corrupt, it has a trickledown effect which allows his subordinates to also become corrupt.
Criticizing former PM Nawaz Sharif, he said that Nawaz was sending millions of dollars outside Pakistan while the country was suffering. His ministers, including Khawaja Asif and Ishaq Dar, also plundered the nation.

NAB

Talking about the performance of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Imran Khan said that the cases against opposition leaders were not made during his tenure. Even leaders of his own party, including Aleem Khan and Subtain Khan were put behind bars by NAB. He said that his government does not interfere in the matters of NAB or the judiciary because it believes in strengthening institutions and making them autonomous.

The Prime Minister also criticized PDM and said he had predicted that the corrupt would band together to blackmail the government into dropping their corruption cases. He reiterated that under no circumstances would PDM be given an NRO.

Civil-military relations

He said the government enjoys exemplary civil-military relations because the military knows that he is not corrupt and is working for the betterment of the country. “The Military will stand with any Prime Minister who works for Pakistan’s betterment”, he said.

The Military wants to see a strong Pakistan, under a patriotic government that has no stakes outside the country. Any nation that goes under heavy debt loses independence in its foreign policy and its sovereignty, which no military would ever want.

Responding to the opposition s allegations, the prime minister challenged them to provide evidence on how the army is backing his government. "I wonder what they want the army to do," he said.

EU DisinfoLab

The PM said that the recent report by EU DisinfoLab has exposed PDM leaders, as those media outlets which target Pakistan with fake propaganda are also backing PDM. They both have the same agenda; attack Imran Khan and the Pakistan Army.

The country is facing an international conspiracy targeting the Pak Army, with PDM leaders taking part in it by directly attacking the country’s top Military brass.

He said that the opposition is in a fix because it has failed to prove any rigging in the election and is facing a Prime Minister who is not prepared to give them an NRO, unlike General (retd) Musharraf. The Prime Minister reassured that short of accountability, he is willing to discuss any issue with the opposition.