PM briefs nation on PTI’s three years performance

By Uzma Zafar

ISLAMABAD: As the PTI government completes three years in power, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday presented to the nation a review of his party’s performance so far at the Jinnah Convention Centre in Islamabad.
The prime minister began the speech by welcoming “all our chief ministers, governors and the leaders of AJK who have just been elected” before commending Sindh Governor Imran Ismail for singing his famous Tabdeeli song prior to his speech.
“I’m not sure if he has more talent for singing or governance,” PM Imran said about the governor’s performance. He then recalled the time when his party was nascent and “had just five to six people who were mocked for being PTI representatives”.
Following this, PM Imran harked back to his career as a cricketer, explaining how his life as a sportsman, “where there are standing ovations one moment and curses the next”, prepared him for a life of struggles.
“Until you go through struggles, you cannot do anything big,” the prime minister said. “No leader became big with a shortcut. Quaid-e-Azam was a big leader. He struggled in his life and people will always remember him for that.” PM Imran then detailed the struggles his government faced on the economic front over the first three years of their mandated five-year tenure, saying he had inherited a country heading towards bankruptcy.
“We had no capital to settle loans. We had no foreign exchange. The current account deficit we faced was of $20 billion. If Saudi Arabia, China and UAE had not helped us at the time, rupee would have declined further and caused us some real damage,” he said.
“We had to go to the IMF and whoever you acquire loan from they set certain conditions,” he added.
The prime minister then mentioned the country’s tiff with India in the aftermath of Pulwama incident and thanked the armed forces for their part. “I appreciate our army and air force. As they (Indian fighter jets) came into our territory and launched an offensive, we realised the power of our army.”
Without naming any names, the premier accused a “mafia” of defaming state institutions, particularly the army. “I also criticised the army in the past,” he said. “Judiciary and army also make mistakes but it doesn’t mean we should [expect] them to topple the democratic government. “We know the Indian lobby is trying hard to defame Pakistan Army.
They are implying that the Taliban won because of Pakistan Army.” He discussed his government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, recalling how he resisted the pressure to impose a “blanket lockdown and by the grace of Allah we were protected”.
“The WEF (World Economic Forum) praised Pakistan for its handling of Covid-19, and the Economist [acknowledged] Pakistan for being one of three countries that effectively tackled the coronavirus,” he said.
“The NCOC (National Command and Operation Center) team comprising Asad Umar and Dr Faisal [Sultan] took great decisions and we survived the worst of Covid.”
He then shed light on his government’s economic performance, saying: “When we assumed power, the [current account] deficit was $20billion and now it is $1.8bn. Our foreign currency reserves were $16.4bn when we assumed power and today they are at $27bn. Our tax collection was Rs3800bn three years ago and now it has reached Rs4700bn.
“We witnessed record sales in motorcycles and tractors, while car sales saw an 85pc increase. It means that the people’s lifestyle is improving.”
Defending the authenticity of the figures he quoted, PM Imran quipped: “These figures are not of Ishaq Dar’s, these are real.”
The prime minister accused his rivals of “spreading hopelessness because they want the old system back”.
“In our tenure, Punjab’s anti corruption has recovered Rs450bn so far,” he claimed. “NAB (National Accountability Bureau), in its 18 years before we came to power, had recovered Rs290bn and in last three years they recovered Rs519bn. All hue and cry is because of this reason.”
He also mentioned his government’s social uplift schemes such as Kamyab Pakistan and Ehsaas Program, saying that the latter was rated “third best in the world” by the World Bank.
The premier reminded his audience of the efforts made to “empower women” in rural areas and stressed the need to educate women, adding that “this is what we are trying to do.”
“We are also working on inheritance laws to ensure women get their due share in property,” he added.
Regarding the progress made on construction of dams in his government, the premier said: “Ten dams are being built which will be complete in the next 10 years, while the Mohmand dam will be complete in 2025.”
PM Imran said his government’s relief work transcended jurisdictions. “We don’t have governments in Sindh and Balochistan but we gave relief packages there, too, for the poor.”
The prime minister, before signing off, thanked his team and his political allies, including the MQM, for their part.
Earlier, PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan said in a tweet that the PTI government would present a first of its kind performance report to the public on a regular basis.
According to details, the prime minister was to launch the report, which will give an insight into the performance of each ministry.
Report 2018-21 has been compiled by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and “focuses [on] the accomplishments the government has made despite the global economic recession in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic,” the report said.
It added the report was 251 pages long and outlined the “achievements of 44 public bodies, including ministries, divisions and departments, through infographics and relevant facts and figures”.
The report will be accessible at the official website of the Directorate of Electronic Media and Publication, according to Radio Pakistan.
Referring to the launch of the report, Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the PTI “can proudly present its performance of [the past] three years to the nation”.
Taking a dig at the opposition, he questioned how many governments in Pakistan had been accountable in the past. “Those who ruled for thirty years are hiding their faces,” he said.
“Three years [of performance in the areas of the] economy, foreign policy and internal stability will bring facts to light today.”
Azhar Mashwani, Punjab chief minister’s focal person for digital media, said that Insaf Youth Wing activists will be live streaming the premier’s speech in seven cities, including Gilgit, Karachi, Multan, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar, Hyderabad.