PM’s hot and cold remarks

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IN a live programme where he received telephone calls from the citizens on Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke at length on various domestic and foreign policy issues and defended key policies of his Government, maintaining that a real change was in the offing.

To sum up, it was a hybrid hot and cold interaction with people in which the Prime Minister adopted aggressive tone on some of the issues that have become a pet theme of his public talk and toned down rhetoric on others in view of the ground realities and the mood of the people.

The highlight of the Prime Minister’s remarks was his categorical announcement that his Government will not resume talks with India until it restores the special status of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

His pronouncement has widely been hailed by people representing different walks of life as it represents the true sentiments of the people of Pakistan on the issue.

One can gauge its relevance to the people by the fact that the stance has also been appreciated by former Prime Minister and leader of PML(N) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

The latest position of the Government assumes significance as a series of measures taken in the recent past and reports appearing in global and local media led people to speculate about a visible change in the policy and approach of the Government on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and resumption of dialogue process with India.

In the absence of any evidence about India’s willingness to undo its illegal actions in Kashmir, the process of normalization raised doubts in the minds of people of Pakistan as apprehensions were expressed about what the Government wanted to achieve by granting unilateral concessions to India.

However, the clarification of the Prime Minister that there would be no talks with India until and unless August 2019 steps are undone might help alleviate concerns of the people of Pakistan as well as Kashmiris.

It is hoped that the Government would maintain a consistent policy on this issue of core interest to Pakistan as any semblance of change in its strategy sends the wrong message to the world community, India and above all Kashmiris.

In a welcome development, the Prime Minister also retracted his earlier criticism of the Foreign Office saying the Foreign Service has done a wonderful job as far as diplomacy is concerned and in an apparent bid to emphasize his point, the Prime Minister referred to the excellent advocacy of the cause of Kashmir.

The criticism of the PM during his live address to the diplomats was clearly centred on non-resolution of complaints of Overseas Pakistanis by our missions abroad, without taking cognizance of the fact that this was just aspect of the responsibilities and duties of these missions and that too was dependent on active cooperation of many other departments and ministries.

In the first place the address should not have been telecast live and secondly, each and every word of live or any other address by the head of state and government should be well thought out as their remarks are taken as policy statements.

At the same time, the Prime Minister took a step in the right direction by announcing establishment of a dedicated portal for the Overseas Pakistanis to be headed by the Foreign Minister, where complaints could be lodged directly if an embassy or foreign mission did not respond to their pleas.

Other relevant ministries and departments like Interior, Commerce, Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis, NADRA, FIA and Overseas Pakistanis Foundation should be directed to work closely with the complaint cell to ensure expeditious resolution of the problems faced by Overseas Pakistanis.

Imran Khan dwelt at length on the issue of accountability reiterating his old stance that he will not give any NRO to anyone involved in corruption.

His campaign against corruption has the backing of the people but, according to analysts, the fact that the PM singled out only ‘Sharif Family’ in this regard conveyed an impression of personal enmity.

The drive against corruption can succeed and produce the desired results only if the process of accountability is across the board, which, unfortunately, is not the case at the moment.

For people of Pakistan, corruption at the lower levels of corruption especially in public dealing institutions is of prime concern but so far no tangible measure has been taken to address the problem.

The Prime Minister once again vowed not to spare anyone involved in the sugar scam and people are still waiting for a genuine action against real culprits and measures that could lead to reversal of the exploitative price-hike.

 

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