Imran Khan addresses party workers at Islamabad Convention Centre. File
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Prime Minister Imran Khan told the nation on Friday that the past two years were difficult, but things were now improving.
"We had a very difficult two years. We didn't have foreign exchange and couldn't pay our debts. We have avoided a huge crisis because we didn't default (payments). But I know it hasn't been easy for the people, I understand the difficulties they faced and still are facing,” he said in a televised address to the nation.
The prime minister said the economy has improved, and the stock market trends indicate the confidence of investors and business community in the economy. He attributed the improvement in the economy to the boom in the construction sector, which led to jobs and wealth creation.
"Thanks God, our revenue starts increasing. Despite coronavirus, our tax collection in July is above the set target. I am looking even better situation ahead,” the prime minister said.
"Despite the pandemic, our tax collection in June exceeded our targets," he said. Exports have gone up, despite the coronavirus crisis that has wreaked havoc on global economy.
Imran congratulated the nation for coming together and fighting against the coronavirus. "Hardly any other nation was able to successfully balance between economy and the virus. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases has reduced and economy has started an upward journey as well.”
The prime minister said this does not mean "we have won this battle.” He urged people to continue taking precautions, the most important and basic of which is to wear a mask while leaving the house.
Imran said that the government has reached an agreement with independent power producers (IPPs), which would lead to a reduction in the cost of electricity production, thus reducing tariffs.
He said that Pakistan's industries could not compete with other nations of the subcontinent like India and Bangladesh as the cost of production in the two countries was low due to cheap electricity. Pakistan, meanwhile, is facing a huge circular debt because the tariffs were less than the cost of generating electricity, which was high.
The premier announced that a reform package will also be introduced in the coming days in order to improve the distribution network in the country by reducing line losses and curbing power theft.
Imran said that Pakistan was "a glorious dream" of an Islamic welfare state where law was supreme and everyone had equal rights regardless of their race, caste or religious beliefs. Hard work and determination was needed to realise this dream, the premier said, adding that the government was now working towards achieving the vision of the forefathers.
He also expressed solidarity with the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir and pledged that Pakistan would continue to extend diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiris' struggle for their right to self-determination. The prime minister assured the IoK residents that Pakistan will continue to raise the Kashmir issue on all forums and will also pray for the residents of the occupied territory.
The first phase of Islamabad's inaugural public fruit garden has been completed after 200 saplings were planted on a greenbelt adjoining a major road in the Pakistani capital, the media reported on Friday.
In a separate development, Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC) Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz, after planting a sapling to inaugurate the fruit garden, said that the cooperation of civil society organisations and philanthropists was critical for coming up with initiatives to make the capital clean and green, The Express Tribune reported.
Senator Sitara Ayaz, the chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change, said protecting existing trees was as important as the planting of new trees, especially in the cities.
Citizens and communities will play their role in both, she said.
The Imran Khan government has launched an ambitious project to plant 10 billion trees across the country.
In the past two years, it has planted 30 million trees while new nurseries were working at top speed to increase the number to one billion by June next year.
The prime minister termed the signing of performance agreements a step in the right direction, and said the performance of each ministry will be evaluated based on the contracts and every ministry will put pressure on itself to meet its targets.
The prime minister expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the current local governments and said a system was being introduced at the village level under which funds would be transferred directly to the councils.
The scheme will cost the government Rs450 billion and will provide free medical treatment to the people at government and private hospitals. Each family can avail treatment worth Rs1 million annually.
At the end of his speech, Imran said that he appeals to Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari to bring back half of the money they have looted over the past 30 years and he would half the prices of the essential commodities.
The fire broke out in the early hours of Sunday in Teatre nightclub in Atalayas, on the outskirts of the city, emergency services said on social media platform X.
An Azerbaijani presidency spokesman told AFP that a "UN mission arrived in Karabakh on Sunday morning" — mainly to assess humanitarian needs, the first time in around 30 years that the international body has gained access to the region.
Turkey’s interior affairs minister said a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device near his ministry on Sunday, while a second assailant was killed in a shootout with police.
In a statement on the occasion of the magazine’s 50th anniversary, which falls on 1st October, 2023, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed said the publication of the first issue of Al Jundi magazine in 1973 marked "the birth of a reliable source of military media content.”