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Joining United States in the war is a great folly : PM Imran Khan

Pm Imran Khan addressed a convivial house a day after the National Assembly passed the budget with a majority vote. He spoke about the issues of national importance, including his government’s vision of a welfare state, budget, economic policy, foreign policy challenges as well as the situation in Afghanistan.

Continuing with his address, the prime minister questioned as to why Pakistan joined the US in the war on terrorism. He asked if there was any other country, which became involved in another country’s war and lost 70,000 lives.

“What did we have to do with the war [against terrorism]? “What they [the US] said, we kept doing. [Former military ruler Pervez] Musharraf said in his book that he took money,” he said, adding that the US then asked Pakistan to send its army into the tribal areas but what was achieved by doing so?

“We decided to become America’s front-line state, [which was] the most humiliating thing to do in life. Joining America in the war is a great folly. When I said why should we be part of the war of others and sacrifice the lives of our people … I was called Taliban Khan,” he added.

Continuing, the prime minister said that US drone strikes were carried out with the permission of the Pakistani governments “which our governments kept hiding”. He asked: “Our terrorist has been sitting in London for 30 years, will Britain allow us to launch a drone strike in London to kill him? Never.”

From this, the prime minister said, “we have learned a lesson that this nation should never compromise on its sovereignty” for fear of anyone. “I have flatly refused to give the US a military base. We will remain partners in peace with the US, and will always remain so, but we cannot be partners in conflict.”

Imran said it was not the outside world that “humiliated us but we ourselves humiliated us”. He stated that the “Kalima ‘La Ilaha Illallah’ gives us pride and dignity,” adding that no country could rise without honour. “Whoever bows down to Allah, will not bow down to any superpower.”

The prime minister told the house that peace in Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s interest but stressed that the country did not need “strategic depth” in its neighbour. “We do not want strategic depth in Afghanistan. We are thinking ahead; we are thinking of the economy, links with Central Asia and we share strong ties with those countries. We are now thinking of the future.”

Imran appreciated Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin and the government’s economic team for presenting a people-friendly budget, which he said reflected his vision of Pakistan. He thanked the party lawmakers and the allies for approving the budget.

When the PTI came to power, The prime minister said, the current account was in the negative and the country was losing foreign exchange at a rapid rate. He added that his government tried not to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF), because of its harsh conditions.

He thanked China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia for coming to Pakistan’s aid in difficult situation, which saved the country from default. However, later, he said, the government had to approach the IMF to fulfil the country’s fiscal needs.

PM Imran Khan continued to assert some of his positions, including his stance on electoral reforms.

The prime minister pointed out that every election after 1970 had been controversial due to allegations of rigging, therefore, “the only solution to this issue [allegations of electoral fraud] is the use of EVMs [electronic voting machines]”.

“We are striving to improve the election process. We have proposed election reforms and I will request the opposition to sit with the government, as it pertains to the future of democracy in Pakistan,” he told the house. “If they [opposition] have any reservations, we are ready to hear them out.”

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