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Sharif family sought help of two countries to secure an NRO: Imran Khan

02 July, 2019

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday revealed that the Sharif family sought help of two countries to secure an NRO and reach a ‘compromise’ with the incumbent government.

“The sons of jailed leader approached two countries to help send their father abroad. But they informed me that they will not interfere in the matter,” the prime minister told a private TV channel. “The two NROs promulgated by Pervez Musharraf for leaders of two political parties damaged the country a lot, raising the debt from Rs 6,000 billion to Rs 30,000 billion,” he said. “There is no possibility of any deal with both Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari,” he added.

To a question, he said the army and the government are on the same page and that he will accept no pressure from anyone and anywhere to give NRO to the jailed opposition leader.

The prime minister, however, said there should be a plea bargain and those who are in jails will have to return the looted money to get free and go abroad. “Those people have been given VIP facilities in jails,” he said, adding that he has directed the law ministry to introduce a legal amendment to withdraw A-class jail facility from those who have looted the public money. “Under the new law, such looters of public money will be put in those jail cells where the common men facing the theft charges are imprisoned. A political prisoner can avail the A-class facility but how this privilege can be extended to the plunderers of national wealth. Such people should be sent to ordinary jails just like other thieves,” he added.

Imran Khan said action against politicians keeping benami properties has started and all such properties will be confiscated. Similar action against all other people, who hold benami properties or bank accounts, will also begin after three days, he said, and once again urged the non-tax filers to register themselves with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and take benefit of the amnesty scheme.

While blaming the previous rulers for the economic woes of the country with ever increasing gap in the fiscal and current account deficits, he vowed to streamline the economy by enforcing strict financial discipline through relevant laws and legislation. He said a country’s economy is judged globally on the basis of fiscal and current account deficits, and the same criterion is being also applied by the international donor agencies.

He said his government inherited about 19.5 billion dollars current account deficit which caused huge pressure on the country’s economic outlook and is pushing it into perils of being declared a defaulter. Besides, he said, a total of 14 billion dollars commercial loan was obtained by the previous government to keep the value of rupee afloat in the market.

“They used the foreign exchange reserves to keep a check on the value of rupee. About 7 billion dollars were spent by the previous government in one year from the foreign reserves. When we came to power, we had foreign exchange reserves for only two weeks,” he added.

The prime minister said the timely assistance from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, China and Qatar has greatly helped in easing the financial pressure and improved the foreign payments. He said without their support, the payment of foreign loans could not have been made possible. The government is able to meet about debt servicing commitments of 10 billion dollars, he added.

The prime minister said it is his conviction that those who had plundered the national wealth used the money laundering channels for investment abroad. “The previous leadership had stakes abroad and had no interests inside Pakistan, so they were involved in money laundering,” he said. “Hudabiya Mills and Surrey Palace cases are clear manifestations of the money laundering cases by the PML-N and PPP leaders, who tried to save their skins through NROs,” he said, adding that recently the fake bank accounts, Hill Metals and TTs (telegraphic transfers) cases have exposed Asif Ali Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif as well. “Hassan Nawaz is living in a residence worth 43 million pounds in the United Kingdom. Asif Zardari had undertaken 40 trips to Dubai as president whereas Nawaz Sharif spent Rs 640 million as prime minister on his foreign visits. I am convinced that those who took their money out of Pakistan have their interests abroad,” he said. “Besides leaving behind huge fiscal deficit, they were now out to destabilize the government,” he remarked.

Imran Khan regretted that the country has not witnessed genuine leaders except Zuflikar Ali Bhutto, whereas the dictators, who did not enjoy public support, had always depended on others. Comparing himself with his predecessors, he said he has no interests abroad. To a query, he said the previous rulers left behind a whopping Rs 1,200 billion circular debt.

About raise in gas prices, he said the past rulers purchased expensive gas and provided the same at low rates to the consumers. He emphasized upon introducing further reforms in corporations which were overburdened with political appointments.

To a question about PML-N parliamentarians, the prime minister said some of them are in contact with the PTI leadership as they have realized that both the opposition parties have no future. He strongly refuted that he has offered anything to anyone. He also categorically stated that the PTI will fully support Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani.

The prime minister said he does not care for certain words used for him by his political opponents. “For PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari who better understands English language, I will say ‘Mind over matter’. I do not mind and they do not matter,” he added. About Maryam’s future, the prime minister said everything will become clear in the times ahead.

He clarified that no dollar exchange rate has been fixed with the IMF, however he said they (IMF) had asked to bring it to the realistic value because the previous government had maintained an artificial value to launder it abroad at a higher rate.

He said those who had been spreading rumours about the dollar value are in fact hurting the country.

Criticizing the opposition leaders, he asked as to how could they question the incumbent government for fiscal deficit when they themselves left behind a bankrupt country with record losses in the PIA, Pakistan Railways, and electricity and gas sectors. He said the imports during the previous government had stood at $61 billion just to show an increasing growth rate.

The prime minister maintained that he will not accept any country’s dictates with regard to the national interests. “I have been elected with the massive public support and we do not have any fears,” he said. “I will not compromise on the national interests,” he declared. To another question, he said during his forthcoming visit to the United States, he will stay at the Pakistan embassy.

The prime minister said by next week, the government will come up with different schemes under the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme that will help boost 40 allied industries. The country is facing a shortfall of around 10 million housing units and the government will engage the private sector in the housing sector that will surely give a boom to the industry.

About the US-Iran standoff, Imran Khan said it is a serious situation and Pakistan has a principled stance that the issue should be resolved peacefully.

As regards Afghanistan, he said there is no military solution to the issue. “From the very beginning, I had the same stance which has now been endorsed by US Special Envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and others,” he said.

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