Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday vowed an end to corruption and preferential treatment given to law breakers.
The prime minister made the remark while recalling that he had promised the people that he will get answers from those who have run the country to the ground and left it so enormously indebted.
His was speaking in Rawalpindi after the launch of the Sir Syed Express train.
“Do whatever you want. It won’t make a difference to me. I won’t give you (amnesty under) an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance). No matter whom you grovel to or whosoever intercedes on your behalf,” he vowed, directly addressing the PPP and PML-N leadership.
“Shehbaz Sharif was standing in parliament and saying: ‘Look at how the rupee has fallen and the dollar has skyrocketed.'”
“Shehbaz Sharif, your family and the Zardari family — if you bring even half the wealth you looted back to this country, you will see the rupee soar and the dollar plummet,” he said.
“I spoke of a New Pakistan and it has already started taking shape. No one had ever laid their hands on such big thieves. No one had ever been made accountable like this before,” claimed the prime minister, vowing accountability for every individual who had left the country in a shambles.
“If you go to the jails here, all you find are poor people. One was jailed for eating food in Ramazan. He was imprisoned for six years and died there,” said the prime minister as he criticised what he sees as the double standard within the system for rich and poor criminals.
“Those who have stolen billions from the country and taken it abroad say we want food from outside [the prison]. [They want] a VIP jail, air-conditioning. Eighty per cent of the populace doesn’t have an AC and here they want it in jail,” the premier said in disbelief.
Someone in the background quipped: “They want a 60-inch [TV] screen too.”
The prime minister then said that he had communicated his displeasure over this state of affairs to the law minister, urging him to ensure equal treatment of all prisoners.
“I have told the law minister this too. You give people punishment so it is a deterrent for others. These guys are living it up in jail and sending a message to people to go big when they steal,” he said.
“It is only the small thieves who have to face a difficult time in this country. [But] the new Pakistan will be one Pakistan; one law for everyone. The influential and the weak will all be viewed equally,” he promised.
Non-stop train from Rawalpindi to Karachi
Earlier in the day, the prime minister inaugurated the Sir Syed Express, a non-stop train from Rawalpindi to Karachi to facilitate passengers and also earn revenue for Pakistan Railways.
“The Sir Syed Express aims at facilitating the passengers from Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir who travel towards Karachi and other Southern cities of the country,” according to the Prime Minister’s Office.
It will offer various facilities including in-house television, Wi-Fi, cabin service, on-wheel restaurant, bedding, sound system and accessories kit. After completion of the ML-1 track, the travel time of the train will reduce to 10 hours.
The prime minister, in his address, also acknowledged Minister for Railways Shaikh Rashid Ahmed’s role in the rapid progress being made to bring the railways sector back on track.
“The way you are working hard and with determination to uplift the railways in Pakistan, I feel the entire nation will not help but say a heartfelt prayer for you,” said the prime minister.
“The railway is the common man’s choice of transport. You will see in the world, in all respectable societies, there is a special emphasis on the railways.
“Because railway is the easiest and cheapest way to transport cargo. And besides that, for all those who do not own cars, who cannot make long journeys, our elderly, for all such people throughout the world, the railway is the most preferred and the best mode of transport,” said PM Imran.
“That’s why I feel so happy when you have me inaugurate new trains again and again. I am also happy because Mianwali is at the other end of Punjab and will now be better connected. And for that I thank you on behalf of the people of Mianwali,” he added.
He also appreciated Shaikh Rasheed’s gesture of allotting 1000 railway station stalls for the Ehsas programme.
“The sole purpose of the Eshas programme is to uplift the lower strata of our society — widows, orphans, unemployed youth. Through ballotting we shall be providing a means of livelihood to these individuals,” said the prime minister.
“It is the biggest programme of its kind in the country’s history. Rs200bn is reserved for this purpose alone, despite the economic crunch we are in, to help these people.”
“I also want to share with you all — as Rashid sahib just mentioned — the railways was faced with a Rs36bn deficit. Despite the fact that oil prices rose, the rupee fell and things got expensive, the deficit was brought down to Rs32bn,” he said, in a nod to the ministry’s performance.
“Every single one of our institutions was facing record deficits. What was the reason behind this? Shaikh sahib rightly pointed out, the reason was corruption,” said PM Khan.
“A country does not become poor due to a lack of resources, it becomes poor due to corruption. This fact lies bare before you. In India, the railways have millions of rupees of profit, billions even. And in our country, it is running in deficit. What is the reason?
“We both got independence at the same time. There too, it used to run in deficit when there was corruption.”