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Imran rules out talks with India until it rescinds August 5 move

Says rapid economic growth will help overcome inflation, unemployment

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has ruled out talks wit India until it rescinds August 5, 2019, move of revoking Kashmir’s autonomy.

Interacting with the general public via telephone on Sunday, he said that Pakistan has come out of an economic crisis against expectations of the opposition and it will now move forward on the economic front.

PM Imran said that the economy has witnessed accelerated growth due to the policies of the government. Nobody was anticipating 3.94 percent growth for the current year but there are estimates that it will go beyond four percent.

The prime minister said that an increase in the growth rate will also help address the issues of inflation and unemployment. He said there is that unprecedented activity in the construction sector besides the record sale of tractors, cars and motorcycles.

He said that the opposition parties have got together not for the sake of the country but their vested interests. He also said that they wanted to get rid of the corruption cases through blackmailing. He, however, added that they would not succeed in their designs.

Responding to the question of a caller, the premier said that there has been record production of some major crops including wheat, rice and maize. He regretted that the agriculture sector was ignored in the past but now the government is paying attention to its development on modern lines.

He said that steps are being taken to provide farmers direct access to the markets. We are also establishing nine hundred new storage facilities, he added. He further said that more loans will be given in the agriculture sector which will benefit the farmers.

PM Imran said that “we have started work on ten dams which will be completed in ten years’ time”. He said that this will enhance our water storage capacity.

The premier said that telemetry system will be introduced to ensure fair distribution of water amongst the provinces.

He said that Rs4,143 billion have so far been collected in taxes by the FBR during the current fiscal year which is a record. He said that this has been achieved despite the challenge posed by Covid-19.

Expressing satisfaction over the way Pakistan handled the pandemic, the prime minister said that the system of Federal Board of Revenue is being automated which will help bring more people into the tax net and significantly enhance our revenue. This in turn will reduce the burden of loans besides the government will have sufficient resources to spend more on the people, he added.

He said that no tax will be imposed on the poor people in the next budget.

PM Imran said that his main focus is to provide better health facilities to the disadvantaged segments of the society. He said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has already provided health insurance cards to all the households whilst the same will be done in Punjab by the end of this year.

He said that a network of hospitals will be established in the country. For this purpose, the land of Pakistan Railways and Auqaf will be utilised.

Responding to a query of another caller, the premier said that a committee has been established to categorise between legal and illegal housing societies. He said that this list will also be put on a website so that the people are not defrauded by the illegal housing societies.

He added that the land record will be computerised in Islamabad, Punjab and KP by August this year which will also help discourage the land mafia.

Prime Minister Imran said that legislation is also being brought to ensure speedy disposal of land-related cases. He said that the government has taken strict action against the land grabbers and got vacated a large swathe of land from them.

He also said efforts are afoot to bring reforms in Punjab police and the day is not far when the people will also appreciate its performance like that of KP.

When asked about Rawalpindi Ring Project, the premier said this is a very important project for the city and work on it will be started immediately. He said that he ordered an inquiry into the project after receiving reports of fraud in it. He added that an inquiry will be completed into it in a matter of two weeks and then action will be taken against the responsible persons who realigned the project for the benefit of few individuals.

Prime Minister Imran categorically stated that Pakistan will not sit with India for talks until it rescinds the illegal steps of August 5, 2019, in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.

He said that normalisation with India at this moment will amount to treachery with the people of Kashmir.

He said that trade cannot be carried out with India when it is committing the worst human rights violations in the occupied Kashmir.

The premier said that Pakistan stands firmly with the Kashmir people.

PM Imran said that the Palestine situation is very similar to the one in occupied Kashmir. He said that there is greater awareness in the world now about the atrocities that Israel is perpetrating against Palestinians. He added that there is only a two-state solution to the issue.

Prime Minister Imran regularly speaks at public gatherings and addresses the nation through live or taped television briefings.

The prime minister used television addresses frequently over the course of the last year to apprise the public of the government’s strategy and evolving policies to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

In his inaugural speech in the parliament as the head of the government, he had vowed to answer the questions of his fellow MPs twice a month in a session later named “Prime Minister’s Question Hour”.

“Twice every month I will answer to the people during the question-answer session in the assembly,” he said at the time. However, the same is yet to be implemented by the government.

Later, Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Chairman Shehrayar Afridi also took to Twitter and said that the premier’s statement “lays to rest” the debate proposing dialogue and trade with India.