Khan’s 100-day speech: ’Pakistan has no future until the menace of corruption is tackled’

Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the ceremony of “First 100 Days of the Government” in Islamabad, on Nov. 29, 2018. (PID photo)
Updated 01 December 2018

Khan’s 100-day speech: ’Pakistan has no future until the menace of corruption is tackled’

  • PM announces Poverty Alleviation Authority to provide proper nutrition to the most vulnerable
  • Opposition says government “lacks the vision” to bring positive change in lives of the poor

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan marked 100 days in office with a speech on Thursday in which he announced that Pakistan’s Assets Recovery Unit has traced undeclared assets worth $11 billion in 26 different countries, while fake accounts used to launder 375 billion rupees have also been unearthed in the ongoing drive against corruption.

“Pakistan has no future until the menace of corruption is tackled,” he said. “The only difference between developed and developing countries is the presence of corruption.”
The prime minister said that during his first 100 days in office Pakistan has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with 26 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland to help locate undeclared assets.
“Pakistan is facing a current account deficit of $12 billion and this can easily be bridged if looted wealth is brought back,” he said, noting that Pakistan has approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package 16 times in the last 30 years.
Khan revealed that the government is introducing a “Whistleblower Act” to root out corruption, adding that anyone who helps locate illegal assets will receive a 20-percent share of money recovered.
Khan also outlined initiatives aimed at alleviating poverty and strengthening the economy. He announced the formation of a Poverty Alleviation Authority, which will provide “nutritious food” to at least 4 million pregnant women and, he claimed, reduce the rate of “stunted growth” in children from 43 percent to 30 percent within five years.
Small-scale farmers will be given cash subsidies to improve livestock and increase exports of Halal meat, and 70,000 water courses will be “lined to conserve water for agriculture.”
The prime minister pointed out that if the government succeeds in increasing investments, exports, and foreign remittances, as well as introducing tax reforms to address the black market, the country will no longer have to “knock at the door of the IMF.”
“A special law is being formulated to ensure that women get their due share of inheritance,” Khan also announced. “And a Legal Aid Authority is being set up to provide free legal services to poor people.”
The prime minister also acknowledged that the working- and lower-classes were suffering because of “rupee devaluation,” but promised to do his best to address the issue as soon as possible, although he warned of “difficult days” ahead.
“We have to increase the prices of commodities to pay back the loans,” he said, while insisting that the poor will soon be given health insurance cards, and that their children would soon receive equal education opportunities as a legal right.
Earlier, Finance Minister Asad Umar claimed that the government’s plans to make the process of doing business in Pakistan simpler would create investment opportunities worth 6,000 billion rupees in the next five years. 
He also claimed that 3.7 million farmers currently have bank loans worth 970 billion rupees and that that figure would be increased to 1,800 billion rupees for 6 million farmers. Meanwhile, a total of 173,000 small industrial units currently receive commercial loans of around 425 billion rupees, he said, and that will increase to 1,900 billion rupees for 700,000 beneficiaries.
Umar also claimed the government would create 100 million jobs in five years through “prudent economic policies” and its housing scheme for the poor.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi noted that during Khan’s first 100 days in power, Pakistan has taken part in 73 bilateral engagements, 16 multilateral engagements, and signed 19 MoUs.
“We have successfully engaged our neighbors, India and Afghanistan, to ensure peace and prosperity in the region,” he said.
The foreign minister also noted an improvement in relationships with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, marked by financial aid from both countries, and said that high-ranking officials from both countries would be visiting Pakistan in the near future.
Adviser to Prime Minister Mohammad Shehzad Arbab said that the government had achieved 18 out of 34 targets in its first 100 days, and that work on the other 16 was “in progress.”
The opposition, however, said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led coalition government lacked the vision and planning to bring positive change to the people.

“The government is just formulating policies, and if they continue to do so, I’m afraid they will do nothing practical in their five-year tenure,” Sen. Mushahidullah Khan, secretary of information for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, told Arab News.
He claimed that the government’s performance so far shows that it has had no cogent economic policy to address issues of the common man. “This government itself is a burden on the poor,” he added.
Pakistan Peoples Party’s Sen. Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar was unimpressed by the prime minister’s speech. 
“Prices of utilities like electricity, gas and petrol have increased manifold in the first 100 days of this government, while the government has just formed committees to address the woes of the people,” he told Arab News.

UN adopts global migration pact rejected by US and others

Updated 3 min 22 sec ago

UN adopts global migration pact rejected by US and others

  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said developed nations needed migration
  • Ten countries, mostly in formerly Communist Eastern Europe, have pulled out

MARRAKESH, Morocco: The United Nations on Monday adopted a deal aimed at improving the way the world copes with rising migration, but almost 30 countries stayed away from the ceremony in Morocco.

The pact, meant to foster cooperation on migration, was agreed in July by all 193 UN members except the US, but only 164 formally signed it at the meeting on Monday.

Ten countries, mostly in formerly Communist Eastern Europe, have pulled out. Six more, among them Israel and Bulgaria, are debating whether to quit, a UN spokesman said after the pact was adopted. He did not say whether the rest of the countries absent from the conference in Marrakesh might also pull out.

With a record 21.3 million refugees globally, the UN began work on the non-binding pact after more than 1 million people arrived in Europe in 2015, many fleeing civil war in Syria and poverty in Africa.

But President Donald Trump’s administration said the global approach to the issue was not compatible with US sovereignty.

Since July, the accord, which addresses issues such as how to protect migrants, integrate them and send them home, has been criticized by mostly right-wing European politicians who say it could increase immigration from African and Arab countries.

Angela Merkel, accused by critics of worsening the refugee crisis by opening Germany’s borders in 2015, said cooperation was the only answer to tackle the world’s problems.

“The pact is worth fighting for,” the German chancellor, one of around a dozen national leaders in Marrakesh, told the forum. “It’s about time that we finally tackle migration together.”

Without naming Trump or his “America First” stance, she said multilateralism was the way “to make the world a better place.” 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said developed nations needed migration.

“In the many places where fertility is declining and life expectancy is rising, economies will stagnate and people will suffer without migration,” he said in his opening address.

On Sunday, Chile withdraw from the pact, while Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel saw the biggest party in his coalition quit in a dispute over the accord.

In November, Austria’s right-wing government, which holds the EU presidency, said it would withdraw, saying the pact would blur the line between legal and illegal migration.

Australia said it would not sign up to a deal it said would compromise its hard-line immigration policy.