Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday said that the language being used by the opposition was similar to the propaganda being peddled by India to discredit Pakistan as a nation.
Addressing an event in Chakwal, where the premier laid the foundation stone for several development projects earlier today, he said: “The way the political opposition of Pakistan has attacked the Pakistan Army, this has never happened before in our history.”
“Former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf used to be criticised, but he was political […] the criticism being dealt out these days, I am sorry to say, is using the language that India’s propaganda machine uses against the Pakistan Army.”
Commenting on a recent report by the Brussels-based EU DisinfoLab regarding an Indian disinformation network operating since 2005 to discredit nations in conflict with Delhi, particularly Pakistan, the premier said: “The purpose of this was to present Pakistan in a negative light in front of the world and to portray that there is chaos so that no one invests in the country.
“The Pakistan Army was also targeted […] India wants the army to be portrayed as a rogue army and as terrorists.”
He stated that it was also discovered that the fake sites unearthed in the investigation were also promoting the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of 11 political parties.
“This is the first time that Pakistan’s opposition has targeted the Pakistan Army in this way. There is no prior example of this.”
He also rubbished the claims of the opposition that the establishment played a part in the 2018 elections. “If the election was rigged, did you go to to the Election Commission of Pakistan or the Supreme Court? Did you take this up in Parliament? Did you say at any forum that the election was rigged?”
The prime minister said that the “whole nation knew” that the leaders of opposition parties had looted the country for the past 30 years.
“There are articles published on them abroad. BBC has made two documentaries about [Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari] and their corruption. You can see on TV what they used to say about each other […] they used to call the other corrupt.”
He said that the opposition, in an effort to save its ill-gotten gains, was attacking a national institution which is needed now more than ever as “never before has there been such a government in India in the history of the subcontinent”.
“A government that is extremist, totalitarian, racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan,” he said.
He added that India was carrying out terrorism in Balochistan and the country’s merged areas in an effort to spread anarchy. “Our jawans are sacrificing their lives. I have never seen an opposition trying to undermine its country like this just to get an NRO.”
He added that if any government gives an NRO to the opposition, it will be tantamount to treason.
“Gen Musharraf gave an NRO two these two [Nawaz and Zardari] and our loans multiplied by four times in the span of 10 years.”
He stated that when the PTI took over governance, half of the money collected under taxes was spent on paying debt installments. He added that the debt increased in the second year of governance due to interest.
“Therefore, we don’t have as much money to spend on the people. This is what happens when corrupt people come into power. They destroy the whole system from the top to the bottom.”
Explaining the difference between kingship and a democracy, the premier said that true democracy holds its leaders accountable.
“Look at the children of these leaders that are carrying out rallies for an NRO,” he said in an apparent reference to Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Maryam Nawaz. “Someone should ask them what their qualifications are. What is the reason that you are the heads of your respective parties? What have you achieved?”
“For even a small job, they ask you what your experience is. You can’t get a job without it. If someone asks them what their job experience is they’ll say that their fathers are the most corrupt men in Pakistan.
“This is their qualification. They haven’t worked for an hour in their life and are here to run a country.”
‘No progress without education’
Changing gears, the premier said that no country can progress without educating its people, “This doesn’t even happen in fairy tales.”
Education doesn’t have immediate returns, he said. The way our democracy has evolved, we think of tangible projects that allow us to win the next election, he said. “A government which thinks about the next generation prioritises education.”
He said that Pakistan had the second youngest population in the world. “The more value we can add to this segment of the population, if we equip them with the necessary skills, then the country will leap forward.”
He predicted that the two projects he inaugurated today — namely Chakwal University and the Centre of Excellence — would produce great talent if attention is paid on recruiting quality teachers.
He added that the 500-bed hospital, that was among the projects he laid the foundation stone for, was also a necessary project. “I again reiterate that we will support you. But the government can’t make all the hospitals that the country requires.”
He said that the health cards introduced by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab will help to upgrade the country’s healthcare system, adding that the government was facilitating private hospitals so that they can establish facilities.
Vision for Pakistan
He said that when people ask him about what he sees for the country at the end of his term, he envisions an end to the country’s debts and fiscal deficit so that Pakistan can stand on its own two feet.
“Our current account has been in surplus for the past five months. This has happened for the first time in 17 years. Our next major push has to be on the country’s fiscal deficit.”
He said that if the government did not have to pay the loans taken by former rulers, it would have managed to balance Pakistan’s income and expenditures.
“We are concentrating on increasing income and wealth creation. I fully believe that when our five years are up, we’ll have lessened the burdened of loans,” he said, adding that the government was also focusing on improving the life of the common man.
PM Imran also said that a new programme will be introduced to ensure that “no one sleeps hungry”. “The programme will take concrete steps to ensure that no one goes to sleep on an empty stomach in Pakistan,” he said.