PM’s blunt talk

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PRIME Minister Imran Khan, who is known for making bold remarks, once again talked in a blunt manner on different issues while responding to questions asked by callers in the programme ‘Your Prime Minister, With You’.

He spoke exhaustively on his pet topic of corruption, made scathing remarks about Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, working of the judiciary, inflation, Corona virus and economic achievements of his Government.

The programme organized in a question-answer mode was obviously aimed at affording opportunity to the layman to have direct access to the chief executive of the country, raise issues that affect his/her life and give the Prime Minister an idea about thinking of the general public vis-à-vis policies and programmes of the Government affording him and his colleagues an opportunity to review and revise them as per aspirations of the people.

Though the thrust of the live interaction has remained on political issues, in the initial episodes people did ask questions that really concerned their life and the Prime Minister tried to pacify them.

This time round almost the entire focus was on political issues, which hardly matter for the common man who is groaning under the increasing burden of inflation, unemployment and rising crimes that need meaningful action by the federal and provincial governments.

The plea taken by the Prime Minister that the inflation was a global phenomenon is partly true as people of Pakistan have to bear the brunt of free fall of rupee against the dollar and other important currencies, increase in tax rates and imposition of taxes and duties on raw material including those meant for drugs, shortage of essential commodities and utilities and frequent upward adjustment of electricity and gas tariffs and people would get substantial relief if these issues are addressed satisfactorily.

It is good of the Prime Minister to have acknowledged that the salaried class was the most affected segment of the society by the reckless inflation.

He has appealed to the corporate sector to increase salaries of their employees but they are unlikely to oblige if the Government doesn’t set a precedent by enhancing salaries and pensions of its employees reasonably.

We have been pointing out consistently in these columns that the price-hike is mainly harming the fixed income groups as industrialists, businessmen and service providers pass on not only entire but additional burden to the end consumer.

Therefore, the Government should provide maximum relief to the salaried class and pensioners so that they are able to lead an honourable life.

As for economic achievements of the Government, the Prime Minister can legitimately take pride in initiating long- term measures and reforms that would ultimately help the country stand on its own feet.

Increase in overall GDP growth rate, rising exports and home remittances by overseas Pakistanis, launching of health cards and the focus on environmental issues augur well for the economy and the country.

Imran Khan referred to some issues like smuggling of the dollar to Afghanistan, grant of stay orders worth Rs.

250 billion by courts and Pakistan’s lower ranking in the rule of law index.

It is for the Government to devise the right kind of policies and initiate actions to address these challenges in close coordination with other stakeholders.

It is also time for the Government to look into factors that inhibited its ability to move firmly against sugar, wheat, cooking oil, cement, iron-bar and drug mafias, which minted money and went scot-free.

The problem of corruption would not be resolved if we continued to look at this issue in the narrow framework of political opposition and ignored what was happening in government ministries and departments.

The Prime Minister himself is considered an upright personality and it was, perhaps, in this backdrop that he made harsh remarks that Leader of the Opposition Mian Shahbaz Sharif was a criminal and therefore he would not talk to him.

He, however, could not realize that as long as someone is not convicted, he/she is considered innocent and should be treated as such under all laws and norms.

There should be no aversion to talking to the Leader of the Opposition who is a legitimate stakeholder in the system as the country suffers due to unnecessary confrontation.

 

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