Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Investment: Imran seeks consensus - Business Recorder (blog)

June 20, 2013

NAVEED BUTT & WAQAR LILLAH

Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan emphasised the need for all political parties to develop a consensus on attracting investment and chalking out a long-term economic policy irrespective of the party in power.

"The sitting members and ministers of parliament enjoy the perks and privileges of their positions as well as running their businesses. There is no such example in other countries of the world. Pakistan is in need of 'conflict of interest law' so that ministers, parliamentarians etc separate themselves from their businesses. We are going to introduce 'conflict of interest law' in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa," Imran Khan expressed these views in his maiden speech on the floor of the National Assembly after taking oath on Wednesday.

Imran Khan said that people would not pay taxes unless we introduce a fair tax system in the country. He condemned the entire tax regime adding it is based on injustice and queried the capacity of the existing tax structure to remove distress particularly from the poor and the middle classes. He also referred to the difficulty of retaining qualified professionals because of the 'unfair' tax burden on them. This is the main reason why no tax culture has developed in Pakistan despite the fact that Pakistanis are leading charity donors, he said.

"We have to change ourselves and take concrete steps for this purpose. It is the responsibility of us all and we should sit together to resolve national issues. We will show strong opposition if the government misuses public money," he said. He talked about the time when Pakistan was one of the leading economically developing states of Asia - a model for others to follow. And asked the question "where did we go wrong"?

He referred to the Charter of Madina and its focus on Insaaf, "We lost East Pakistan because we denied the people justice. The poor Baloch sitting outside Parliament want justice." He maintained that people in developed welfare states are satisfied because they know they have access to justice.

The PTI Chairman emphasised a consensus among all political parties and stakeholders to curb terrorism in the country. "We should take Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Parliament and nation into confidence to evolve a comprehensive policy. After evolving a policy we should strictly follow it. It will be the beginning to resolve the problem of terrorism. But there is a separate solution for Balochistan and sectarianism," he maintained.

Imran said that terrorism is spreading like cancer and we have to focus on its root causes. He said that for nine years we have only focused on a militaristic approach and we know the result of that. He said that Pakistan's entire fight in war on terror was based on a lie. Consecutive Pakistani governments, he said, lied to people in return for dollars. We should take the nation into confidence in this regard.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan said, "We should evolve a policy to stop drone attacks". He said that drone attacks are linked with Afghan war. "The government should not misguide the nation on drone attacks. We link drone strikes with America's war. If Pakistan has to win war against terror it has to take ownership and that means asserting its sovereignty".

Drone strikes need to be stopped not just because they are against international law but also because they link Pakistan with the US war. "We need to delink and disengage ourselves from this war," he argued.

He suggested Pakistan links with anti-drone lobbies in the US as well as the UNSC. "We need a comprehensive policy to stop drones and then move on to a national truth and reconciliation. Imran Khan demanded National Accountability Bureau (NAB) be totally independent. He said that political victimisation would be continued if NAB is not made into an independent institution.

Khan said unless civil service and police are depoliticised governance cannot be rectified. He pointed out the need for a proper local government system. We will devolve to the villages through local government system, he said. He said KP government will be doing this shortly and will try to have elections through biometric system.

Finally, Imran Khan spoke on rigging on elections and urged that any four constituencies should be used as a test case to evaluate the level of rigging if any. He stated that PTI did not join Tahir-ul- Qadri because the party had hopes for a fair and free election. But perhaps Dr Qadri was right and electoral reforms were required, Khan added. He pointed out how every party claimed rigging somewhere or the other in Pakistan after the last elections. People for the first time came out on the streets to protest rigging.

He demanded that the Chief Election Commission and the Chief Justice of Supreme Court investigate what happened in the elections. We want an independent investigation and use of verification by thumbprints, he said. Election Commission needs to be totally depoliticized, he said.

"We saw new voters and a heavy turnout but if these voters lose faith in elections Pakistan's democracy will suffer. I appeal to the Chief Justice to take notice of the election irregularities as there has been a theft of the electoral mandate. Start with KP if you want. If we expose the truth, we will move on and not repeat our mistakes", he said.

"We should have made public the Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report as well as have had a commission on Kargil and the US war on terror, so we could have learnt from our mistakes," he said. Acknowledging the PTI's chief Imran Khan enthusiastic speech on National security issues, Federal Minister for Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan called Imran Khan a true patriot, saying that Khan's speech was a demonstration of true statesmanship which the country needs at this most critical juncture.

He said that a healthy environment developed in parliament due to the Khan's speech, adding that the supremacy of this august House would exist if all political forces join hands to resolve national challenges-deteriorating law and order, menace of terrorism and crippling economy".

He urged the political forces in the country to join hands for national consensus on important economic, political and strategic issues. "It is the need of the hour to protect sovereignty and independence of the country through stopping drone strikes on Pakistan's soil and to give a strong message to the world that Pakistan is not a banana republic. Today's Pakistan is not Pervez Musharraf's Pakistan as the democratic forces are now ruling the country", the Interior Minister said while strongly condemning drones attacks.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan while informing the National Assembly about the government future strategy on national security matters said that Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif has almost completed consultation with political leaders to convene a meeting on two points-- independence and sovereignty, and terrorism. He added that Defence Services Chiefs would also be invited to the meeting.

While informing the house about his meeting with Chief of the Army Staff, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that working papers on National Security Plan are being prepared with consultation of Pakistan Army. Nisar invited the opposition to jointly move forward and assured the government's co-operation to sort out all contentious issues.

Replying to the Imran Khan's remarks on 2013 general elections the Interior Minister said that the government is ready to investigate election results on 10, 20 or even 30 seats. "An Independent Commission will be set up to ascertain the elections results. We shall ensure open investigation whether by checking voters finger prints or through other mechanism", he added.

He proposed to disqualify those members who had reached the House through rigging and three to five years ban be imposed on them, adding that officials who were involved in rigging would be dismissed from their jobs. He asked the PTI to bring electoral reform bill in the parliament and assured PML-N's support.

Endorsing Imran Khan's proposal about making National Accountability Bureau (NAB) an independent organisation, Nisar Ali Khan said that the PML-N would appoint a new chairman NAB with the consultation of all stakeholders. "The government will send a list of names to the opposition to ensure a genuine and independent NAB," he added. Nisar Ali Khan proposed that an Ethics Committee of the House should be set up to ascertain the allegations levelled against the conduct of parliamentarians, adding that allegations will first be judged by the Committee and then sent to NAB. He also invited the opposition to introduce Conflict of Interest bill in the House and assured the government's support. "No government can be worth its name until it ensures transparency", the Interior Minister concluded.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2013
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