Imran Khan addresses to tribal people in Kurram Agency. File / AFP
Prime Minister Imran Khan announced to make high-powered commission to investigate heavy loans taken in last ten years. "I am constituting the enquiry commission with a one-point agenda: how they accumulated the debt so much in 10 years,” he said in his televised address to the nation shortly before midnight.
Imran said that the commission would comprise representatives from the the Inter-services Intelligence (ISI), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).
In a televised speech, Imran Khan said Pakistan's foreign debt increased dramatically during the two men's tenures. He said he will set up a high-powered body to investigate where foreign loan money obtained by Zardari and Sharif was spent.
"Pakistan is going to be a great state which would reflect Riyasat-e-Madina, he said and vowed to nab the "thieves who plunged Pakistan in debt badly."
He said after putting to rest the initial focus of the government to stabilise the economy, his attention would be more targeted towards bringing the ones to task who had caused the country to fall into such dire straits.
Imran said that under the lofty principles all were equal before the laws, and even the head of the state was fully answerable before the laws and no one hurled threats at the accountability process.
From the day first, the premier said, his opponents were questioning the new Pakistan and added Riasat-e-Madina was not created in one day. It evolved after passing through a process and with passage of time expanded from Arab peninsula to other parts of the world.
Referring to his government’s first federal budget, he said it reflects new Pakistan, which is stable now. Taking a jibe at previous governments, he put the blame for economic woes of the country on Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
The premier expressed his wonder that those who had caused huge losses to the country had now gathered against his government. He regretted that a ruckus had been created inside parliament by the opposition parties and warned that he would not bow before their blackmailing and pressure.
"I will not spare them," he said. "I will go after them."
Nawaz Sharif, who served as the country's premier three times, was ousted from office by the Supreme Court in 2017 because of the corruption charges against him. Sharif, along with other family members, has cases still pending against him.
Zardari, currently a member in the lower house of parliament, and his sister have been accused by the National Accountability Bureau of holding dozens of bogus bank accounts. They have denied any wrongdoing.
Imran's comments came hours after his government presented its first budget proposal, which calls for additional taxes and increasing electricity and gas tariffs to meet International Monetary Fund conditions for receiving a $6 billion bailout.
His speech also came hours after a Pakistani court handed Zardari over to a national anti-graft body for questions regarding a multi-million-dollar money laundering case.
Asif Ali Zardari will be held for 10 days pending an investigation.
The court order came a day after Zardari was arrested after he and his sister's bail applications were denied. However, authorities did not arrest Faryal Talpur. No explanation was given.
Imran revealed that they (Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari) reached an agreement that each would rule for five years and "not say anything to each other."
Speaking on the arrests of Hamza Shahbaz by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain by
London police, Imran said he was thankful to Allah, the big figures are now in prison. No one could have even imagined before.
"The judiciary is free today, and this is the new Pakistan. For 22 years, I was saying our biggest problem is corruption. The people should know what happens when a corrupt leader comes. Their assets are all abroad, their Eids are abroad, their treatment is abroad, a three-time prime minister whose sons are sitting abroad are saying we are not citizens [of Pakistan] and are not answerable. They didn't make one hospital where the Sharifs could seek treatment."
Later in a tweet, Imran said: "Time for nation to stop glorifying money launderers who have damaged our nation & impoverished our people and now seeking refuge behind "democracy." No protocol should be extended to them. Where are plunderers of public wealth given such special treatment? Time to treat them as criminals
Zardari's opposition Pakistan People's Party claims the charges against him are politically motivated, which the government denies. Several prominent politicians and businessmen have been swept up on corruption charges since Khan took office last year, after winning a narrow majority in parliamentary elections. Khan campaigned heavily on promises to root out graft among the country's elite.
Zardari, widower of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was president for five years, until 2013.
Zardari's Tuesday court hearing was held amid tight security, as his party's supporters held small rallies across the country to condemn the arrest. Zardari will appear in court again on June 21, when the anti-graft body is expected to press or drop charges.
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