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
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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.


Hungary hits Soros, Juncker in new media campaign

Updated 22 min 32 sec ago
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Hungary hits Soros, Juncker in new media campaign

  • The campaign provoked a furious reaction from prominent EU politicians
  • EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas dismissed the campaign as "fake news"

BUDAPEST: Hungary launched a new anti-immigration media campaign on Tuesday in which it accused George Soros and EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker of allegedly supporting illegal migration, but which Brussels immediately dismissed as "fake news".
According to the Hungarian government's Facebook page, the media blitz — funded with taxpayers' money — is expected to include billboard posters featuring images of the liberal US billionaire Soros and a smiling Juncker above the words: "You too have a right to know what Brussels is preparing".
"They want to bring in the mandatory settlement quota; weaken member states' rights to border defence; facilitate immigration with a migrant visa," it continues.
The campaign provoked a furious reaction from prominent EU politicians, including from Joseph Daul, president of the European People's Party grouping which includes both Juncker and right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party.
In a series of tweets, Daul condemned the campaign, calling its claims "deceitful, misleading and... not based on facts".
Daul denounced Hungary's attacks on Juncker and defended him as a "true Christian Democrat and a real European leader".
He went on to remind Hungary that "decisions in Brussels, including on migration, are taken collectively by EU governments" and the European Parliament, both of which include Hungarian representatives.
The presence of Fidesz within the EPP has long been a source of controversy but there have been no official moves by any of the other centre-right parties in the grouping to expel it.
Orban's government, which has frequently clashed with the EU on migration, has regularly undertaken similar campaigns in the past, including "Let's Stop Brussels" and "Don't let Soros have the last laugh."
In recent years, Orban has blasted the Hungarian-born 88-year-old philanthropist and investor as a "public enemy" for allegedly backing uncontrolled mass immigration.
At the same time, Orban's government has frequently been accused of using anti-Semitic tropes and imagery in its campaigns against Soros, claims it denies.
In recent months, pro-Orban media have also attacked Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini — the author of a critical report about Hungary that formed the basis of EU legal action against Budapest -- and Juncker's deputy Frans Timmermans.
"Brussels continues to want to support illegal immigration," Zoltan Kovacs, a government spokesman, told reporters in Budapest on Tuesday.
"Hungarians need to know about this, that's why the latest information campaign has been launched," he said, denying it is part of the upcoming European Parliament election campaign.
Kovacs said plans in "drawers in Brussels" included hikes in financial funding of NGOs and the creation of a special migration fund.
EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas dismissed the campaign as "fake news".
"The Hungary government campaign beggars belief," he told a briefing in Brussels.
"It is shocking that such a ludicrous conspiracy theory has reached the mainstream to the extent it has. There is no conspiracy. Hungarians deserve facts, not fiction," he said.