Prime Minister Imran Khan has rubbished the impression that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was playing a ‘politics of the victor’, saying that all the corruption cases against former President Asif Ali Zardari and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were made before his government was sworn in.
In an interview to the Turkish state broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television (TRT), he said that it was always tough to remove a status-quo that is deeply embedded and entrenched in a society, but a ‘genuinely popular public movement’ had finally pushed it out.
“The previous governments didn’t allow the courts to function, and the state institutions supposed to prosecute the criminals and big politicians were controlled by the same politicians”, he said.
“The Pakistani institutions are no longer controlled by such elements and they are free to go after anyone, be it a land-grabber or a politician involved in criminal activities”, he added.
“In our entire history, the powerful always got away [with their wrongdoings], and the weak got in jails. But now, the law is taking its course against people making billions [through corruption]”, he said.
He said that Pakistan had taken a downward trajectory since 1985 and a country which was once the fastest-growing economies in Asia, had now been taken over by India, Bangladesh and even Sri Lanka.
“Corruption not only syphons off money that should be spent on people, but it also destroys institutions”, he said.
To a question about the relationship between Turkey and Pakistan, PM Khan said that the Muslims of subcontinent always had close ties with the Turks and it started with Turkey’s fight for independence under Mustafa Kamal Ataturk’s leadership.
“Muslims of India, especially of areas that are now in Pakistan, collected funds and sent to Turkish brothers to help them in their fight for independence. Since then this bond has stayed”, he said.
“People of turkey know what Muslims of India did at that time, and Muslims of India take pride in how Turks fought against colonialism and got independence”, PM Khan said.
“There are also trading links between Turkey and Pakistan, and we want to enhance them. We have decided to have a working group to draw a plan for the next 5-10 years to increase trade and investing in each other”, he said.
To a question about the now proscribed Gulen-backed Pak-Turk International Cag Education Foundation (PTICEF) which ran Pak-Turk International Schools in Pakistan, the prime minister said that the courts took their time in deciding the matter and now the Supreme Court has declared them to be a terror outfit.
“Pakistan to be an ally-in-peace”
To a question about Pakistan’s ties with the United States, Imran Khan said that post 9/11, Pakistan witnessed chaos and terrorism of proportions that could have brought down a country.
“We are still recovering from that awful decade when there were suicide attacks daily”, he said, stressing that Pakistan will not fight any other country’s war and all policies [of Pakistan] were going to be for the good of its people.
“Now Pakistan is going to be an ally in peace; we are going to help Afghanistan have a peaceful transition and have a political government”, he said.
“Pakistan to play a role in achieving peace in Afghanistan”
To another question, he said that those countries who alleged Pakistan of fomenting insurgency in Afghanistan were fooling the public. “Why could 150,000 Nato and 200,000 Afghan troops couldn’t win in Afghanistan in the last 16 years?”, he questioned.
“Pakistan was scapegoated for one of the most ill-thought-out policies in Afghanistan. It was a one-dimensional military approach to resolve the Afghan crisis, but everyone knew it was going to fail, and it did”, he said.
“There’s no military solution to Afghanistan, and now everyone has recognised it. Pakistan can do its bit along with Afghanistan’s neighbours, to get the Taliban, Americans and the Afghan govt to sit and negotiate”, he said.
To a question, PM Khan said that one had to prioritise the challenges, and Pakistan’s main problem was the economic one.
“I am pleased to say that our economy has now stabilized, and exports, investments and foreign remittances are increasing which are critical for job creation and boosting foreign exchange reserves”, he said.
He said that the Chinese had been a breath of fresh air for the country in this moment of ‘doom and gloom’, and they were going to play a huge part in uplifting Pakistan’s economy.
Message to Indian PM Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Khan expressed his hope that India would soon come to the negotiation table but suggested that since the general elections in India were round the corner, there was a little hope for a reduction in Indian side’s rhetoric.
“Pakistan has time and again suggested that only dialogue is the way forward, but our peace overtures have been rejected.
He said that Indian brutality in Kashmir since last year has been mind-boggling where over 500 people were killed whereas thousands of others were blinded through pellet guns.
“When people are killed, there’s a reaction, and it’s unfortunate that this reaction is pinned on Pakistan by India, even the UN recognises the Kashmir’s struggle for freedom as an indigenous struggle”, he said.