-Urges vigilance as 3rd Covid wave swamps hospitals
-Warns of tougher restrictions if health SOPs’ flouting continues
-Answers public’s questions on corruption, inflation & pandemic
-NCOC suspends inter-provincial transport for two weeks
-Advocates social distancing, precautions during Ramzan
By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai
Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated on Sunday that the third wave of the coronavirus was extremely dangerous in comparison to the previous two waves, urging the masses to strictly follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Addressing the nation ahead of a question-and-answer session with the public, the premier cautioned that the government would be forced to impose major restrictions if people didn’t start adhering to the Covid-19 guidelines.
“I have noticed people are not caring and are not taking precautions while going out in public,” Imran said, warning that such an attitude could have dangerous consequences and lead to the spread of the disease.
“We have so far been protecting our people, we are not imposing a lockdown or closing our factories. We are only imposing minor restrictions so that this wave doesn’t spread rapidly. But if this spreads, it will have a very negative impact and we will be forced to take steps.”
Prime Minister Imran said the country could have
plunged into a severe economic crisis if the government had imposed a lockdown for a second time. “Allah blessed Pakistan especially and saved us from the looming danger,” he added. The premier said no one could predict with certainty how far the third virus wave would go.
“I request you to wear a mask wherever you go; it costs nothing and is highly beneficial, and the world has recognised its advantages,” he told the nation.
The premier noted that the most affected segment due to lockdowns were the poor across the world, saying according to an estimate 150 million people had gone below the poverty line in the wake of the closure of businesses and economies.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said that as corruption had eaten away the economies of poor countries like Pakistan, the society as a cohesive whole should extend full support to make the fight against the menace a success.
Responding to questions by the people during a live broadcast, the prime minister said a nation could fight corruption only through collective efforts. “Imran Khan cannot fight it alone, the society carries on this fight and the judiciary fights it. The National Accountability Bureau, which is completely independent, can frame cases,” he added.
The prime minister said corruption was the real issue, which had permeated in all the poor countries of the world and had even shaken the economies of rich ones. He referred to the steps taken by Mahathir Mohamad to lift the Malaysian economy.
Imran Khan said the powerful elite embezzled the national wealth by holding on to the powerful offices as happened in Pakistan and then resorted to money laundering as they could not hide such huge amounts in their respective countries.
According to the United Nations watchdog panel report, about 1,000 billion dollars from the poor countries were being laundered to the rich countries or tax havens, he said. The report further said about 7,000 billion dollars had been stashed away in rich countries, he added.
The prime minister said the Government of Pakistan was striving to get the laundered money back. China had sent 450 ministers to jail on corruption charges and in Singapore, a minister committed suicide after he had been arrested for corruption, he added. “It is regrettable that in Pakistan, the corrupt elements are warmly welcomed and showered with flower petals.”
Expressing his resolve, Imran Khan said, “Insha’Allah we have to win this fight – a fight for the rule of law, which is vital for the country’s survival.” He said in the fight, all the corrupt elements had gathered on one platform to pull down Imran Khan’s government because it was not giving them any NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance).
The prime minister said the real issue was rule of law, which was firmly imposed by Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in the State of Madina. “We all have to decide together to go after these corrupt elements,” he emphasized. The prime minister, to a question, replied that the government had retrieved land worth Rs 450 billion from illegal occupants in Punjab alone. The government, he said, would not spare the powerful mafia, who had encroached upon its own lands and properties. The government has declared war against them.
A Lahore-based clique had the backing of a political party, and even in past, the ministers and members of the parliament had gobbled the government’s precious lands in Punjab, he added. The mafia, he said, also encroached upon the properties of overseas Pakistanis. The prime minister said a change could be brought through a consecutive struggle. There were two kinds of changes, i.e., blood revolution and a change through the ballot.
The judiciary was completely independent as well as NAB, which was previously controlled by the then governments, he added.
Citing the Broadsheet Commission report, Imran Khan said Justice (retired) Shaikh Azmat Saeed’s findings had divulged that the corrupt elements were protected in the scandal.
“There is a difference between revolution and evolution, the latter will take time,” he maintained.
The prime minister said his government had so far paid back 35,000 billion rupees in debt, which the previous rulers had left behind.