Imran Khan turned down suggestion by AJK PM

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MUZAFFARABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday discreetly turned down a suggestion by Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider for national reconciliation in the country, saying he could not reconcile with those who had looted national wealth.

“As a Kashmiri, I want to make a request to you. Begin national reconciliation in Pakistan. Raise yourself above everyone else and take everyone along,” said Mr Haider in his address at the special session of AJK Legislative Assembly held to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day.

The AJK premier, who is also regional president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said that he could not help calling a spade a spade, which was why “sometimes my own people would get cross with me”.

“We all are with you. Being the prime minister of the country you are respectable for us and we have some expectations from you. Please end these fights on TV talk shows, which have really divided the country,” Mr Haider beseeched PM Khan.

“Now it’s time to stand on our feet. The West has put Pakistan in shackles which we need to remove. This can only happen when there is national unity and consensus of opinion in the country,” Mr Haider added.

His plea was believed to be in the context of a widely prevailing perception among the Kashmiri circles that political instability and polarisation in Pakistan has a direct bearing on the Kashmir issue.

However, as Mr Haider was unable to explain the reason behind his desire, it was assumed that he was seeking some sort of forgiveness for the beleaguered opposition in Pakistan.

In response, Prime Minister Imran Khan did not mince his words and expressed his opposition to the idea at the very outset of his speech.

“Please don’t ask me to reconcile with the corrupt people who stashed the wealth of this country in foreign countries,” PM Khan said.

He said whichever institution of the country he looked into was plagued with corruption. “It’s therefore the fight of my country.”

“As far as consensus building is concerned, I stand by you. But there is a problem,” he said. The prime minister then asked the legislators to draw parallels between the prosperous and the poorest countries.“You will realise that the prosperous countries are not so because they are gifted by the Almighty with [natural] resources and the poorest countries are not so for want of resources. The main reason of the prosperity is a clean government, transparency and nonexistent corruption,” he said. Mr Khan made it clear at least twice that he had no personal enmity with anyone. “But my issue is that if someone commits theft in my house and burdens me with debt, should I make friends with them,” he asked.

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