Big political mafias resisting rule of law, says PM

| Imran Khan addresses groundbreaking ceremony of Naya Pakistan Housing project in Lahore | Says changing corrupt system is time-taking but doable challenge | Defining moment for country as war waged against mafias to bring them under ambit of law

LAHORE   –  Admitting that bringing about a change by doing away with the prevailing corrupt system was a long process and a challenging task, Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday expressed his resolve to achieve this objective despite the presence of strong forces of status quo which, he said, did not change due to their vested interests. 

“The forces of status quo don’t want any change in the prevailing system. If they don’t resist the change, how will they make money”, he said while addressing the groundbreaking ceremony of the Naya Pakistan Housing project meant for the low-income groups.

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, federal and provincial cabinet members, chairman of Naya Pakistan Housing Program Lt General (retired) Anwar Hyder and Vice Chairman of Lahore Development Authority Imran Munir attended the event. Under the LDA City project, a joint venture of Naya Pakistan Housing Authority and LDA, a total of 35,000 modern apartments would be constructed for the low-income group under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative to provide housing facilities. In the first phase, of the as many as 4000 apartments would be constructed, out of which, 2000 have been allocated for the government employees getting less than Rs 50,000 per month in salary. In order to ensure transparency in the project, a computerized balloting would be held soon and the Prime Minister would initially distribute allotments among the applicants selected through balloting. The prime minister appreciated the Punjab chief minister, cabinet members and particularly LDA Vice Chairman Imran Munir for putting in all efforts to pave way for the mega pro-poor project.

He said the project’s launch would not have been possible without the passage of foreclosure law for mortgage finance and thanked the judiciary for resolving the issue pending since years. “In Pakistan, mortgage finance stood at around 0.2% against above 80pc in western countries”, he said, adding that the passage of the foreclosure law enabled the poor people to buy or construct their own house. He said the people would be able to avail the housing finance by paying the instalments from the money they used to pay for the house rent.  

‘Commitment to change corrupt system’

The prime minister said he had himself seen the current system deteriorating in front of his eyes. “It requires a vision and commitment to change the corrupt system”, he said. Citing the western countries who had have transformed themselves over the years, the prime minister believed that it was doable.  “We will have to change ourselves if Pakistan has to meet the 21st-century challenges,” he stressed. He said today’s Scandinavian welfare states and others in the West were also pursuing very noble principles.

“Today, a full-fledged battle is going on in Pakistan to make big mafias accountable before the law. There are big political mafias too which are resisting the rule of law. The Prime Minister said this is a defining moment for the country as the war had been waged against the mafias to bring them under the ambit of law.

Talking about the establishment of a welfare state, the premier said that the state of Madina had taken full responsibility to take care of the poor people despite resource constraints. The incumbent government, he said, was also trying to follow the same principles by extending universal health coverage to the people besides building Panagahs and also introducing mobile kitchens for the poor.

He said the KP government had extended Sehat Insaf Card to the entire population while Punjab would also achieve the same milestone by this year end to make the beneficiaries avail free medical treatment of up to Rs1 million.

“Even the developed countries don’t have such universal health coverage system”, he averred, adding that he would launch an initiative of mobile kitchen on Sunday to serve free of charge food to the poor people in their respective areas. He said Pakistan was all set to become a welfare state in the days to come. He disclosed that the biggest project that was in the pipeline was about giving direct subsidy to the poor, but it would be provided after collecting data of these families.

‘Political mafias’

Stressing the need for establishing the rule of law, Imran Khan said nobody including him was above the law. He said present-day Pakistan was confronting the “political mafias” who wanted to maintain the status quo.  Citing the examples of Germany, the UK and other western countries, he said nobody in these countries was above law. “There is no privileged class there”, he said.

Without naming anybody, the prime minister said: “Whosoever is facing corruption charges should go to the court to prove his innocence”. Again, he mentioned that in the state of Medina, everybody was equal before the law. He vowed to build Pakistan on the pattern of the state of Medina. Referring to his vision of Naya Pakistan and Madina State, the prime minister said Madina state was based on two golden principles of rule of law and humanity.

Talking about the system of automation, he appreciated Imran Munir for bringing in automation to facilitate the construction sector which he said was booming in the country as evidenced by the record cement sale last month. He also appreciated Naya Pakistan Housing Authority for holding sessions with State Bank, FBR, and commercial banks to bring maximum ease for the construction sector as well as remove hassles from the housing loan process. Imran Khan told the audience that the construction industry supported another 30 allied industries, thus becoming a major source to boost the economy.

The prime minister also spoke high of Punjab Bank President Zafar Masood for supporting the wealth creation, like any “outstanding” banker and contrary to some typical banks which banked upon government’s deposits. Quoting a recently published UNDP report, the prime minister said as per the UN data, the poverty ratio had declined in KP province during last seven years while the human development index had shown a positive trend. Moreover, he said the government would collect data of its entire population by June which would help the government pay a direct subsidy to deserving people.

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