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No NRO in Naya Pakistan, PM Imran vows

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BALLOKI: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday once again categorically ruled out an NRO-like deal for the opposition leaders, particularly former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari, underscoring the need for across-the-board accountability.

Addressing a launching ceremony of a plantation drive ‘Plant for Pakistan’ in Balloki, the prime minister promised the nation that his government won’t let the corrupt people go scot-free.

The PM said his government has had enough with the opposition and won’t make any more compromises for the sake of parliament.

“Those who have been facing corruption cases were summoning the NAB [National Accountability Bureau] officials,” he said in a reference to NA Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif. “It has never been imagined in a democracy,” he exclaimed.

Touting his government for having no tolerance for corruption, Imran said three of PTI cabinet members – Babar Awan, Azam Swati and Aleem Khan – resigned over corruption allegation. “It is the change,” he bragged, adding it had never been imagined that the elite would be held accountable for their deeds.

Taking a jibe at the PPP leaders, he said those who siphoned off billions of rupees had no courage to resign.

NROS DESTROYED COUNTRY:

He said the two NROs [in the past] had caused huge damage to Pakistan and sent the country into chronic financial woes.

“General (r) Pervez Musharraf gave NRO to Nawaz Sharif to save his own seat. A case was made against the Sharif brothers pertaining to the Hudaibiya Paper Mills and Ishaq Dar’s confessional statement regarding how money laundering was done was also present. However, to save his own seat, Musharraf gave Nawaz an NRO and let him leave for Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“On the other hand, Rs2 billion from the national exchequer were spent on Asif Zardari’s Swiss case and there was a Surrey Mansion case in London which the Pakistan government won and the country was to get the money, however, an NRO was signed and that case was closed.”

“These two NROs gave the powerful the impression that theft is no big deal and no matter how much you steal the powerful thieves are not caught in Pakistan.”

“The result of this was that from 2008 to 2018, two leaders governed Pakistan for five years each. In 2008, Pakistan’s debt stood at Rs6,000 billion but after the terms of the two leaders it rose to Rs30,000 billion as they had no fear,” he claimed.

Such an unprecedented debt also hiked the prices of the daily commodities, badly affecting the common man, the PM said, wondering how could the government fix all of this in only five months.

’10BN TREES IN FIVE YEARS’:

Underscoring the importance of trees to combat climate change, the premier encouraged young people to become an active part of his team for afforestation.

Imran expressed his resolve that about 10 billion trees would be planted across the country in the next five years.

The PM cautioned that Pakistan ranked eight among the worst climate affected countries in the world and if environmental warming was not properly checked, it would pose greater challenges in the upcoming years in terms of water scarcity, melting of glaciers and pollution.

He warned that the pollution level in Lahore had reached an alarming level which had been among the world top two most environment polluted metropolis besides Delhi.

About 70 per cent trees had been felled in Lahore and now the smog had been hitting the old ones and the young in Lahore worst, he observed.

The PM, stressing upon the severity of deforestation issue, termed the ongoing drive for recovery of state land as a Jihad against land mafia.

“Consider it a Jihad for the future of our generations. Cities are being enormously expanded and cultivable land is being shrunk which could give rise to food security in future”, he warned.

On the occasion, the PM assured that his government would ensure equal status and rights to all minorities living inside Pakistan.

He assured that the PTI government would not allow minorities to be treated like “second class citizens like those experienced by minorities in India”.

He said the government would fulfill its commitment over the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor and would facilitate Sikh yatrees from India on the occasion of 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak.

He assured establishment of Baba Guru Nanak University and said it always gave him a good feeling when the people made demands for establishment of educational institutes.

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, Federal Minister for Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, provincial ministers and high officials were also present.

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