PM vows not to spare any of the corrupt come what may

* Imran Khan says Nawaz Sharif's treatment abroad has cost the nation Rs 280 million

While stressing for an equitable justice system for the rich and the poor alike as envisioned by the country’s founding fathers, Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday said the government will not spare any of the corrupt even if they make hue and cry to any extent.

Addressing a gathering here after distributing Sehat Insaf cards among the poor people, he remarked that ‘the union of the corrupt’ was getting united in the country in the name of protecting the democracy.

Talking about the state of affairs in the country’s justice system, the prime minister cited the example of a Supreme Court verdict that resulted in the release of two brothers, who were given death sentence by a lower court three years ago. “A poor and common man is jailed for stealing even a chicken as he cannot afford to hire a lawyer, whereas the rich and the affluent walk free,” he remarked. “It is due to an inequitable system that the accused affluent are walking free and enjoying the protocol of 40 vehicles,” he said. “Whenever a plunderer is arrested, all of them get united in the parliament claiming that democracy is in danger,” he remarked.

The prime minister referred to the justice system in the United Kingdom and said a judge there awarded three years sentence to a public representative only for giving wrong figures of his travel and medical expenditures from the public funds. “But here in our country, a public representative after being arrested or caught on some charges becomes Nelson Mandela,” he remarked.

The prime minister said he himself continued to appear before the Supreme Court for a year to defend himself and presented the 40-year-old records and 60 documents of his property and earnings. “Whereas, the Sharif family could not produce any document before the courts in their defence, only because the London flats in question were in fact purchased in 1993 as against their claim of purchasing those properties in 2006,” he added.

The prime minister said Pakistan is the only country in the world which has been created in the name and philosophy of Islam. “But we have got ourselves away from that philosophy,” he lamented.

The prime minister said since healthcare is a basic need of every person, the government has started Sehat Insaf Card scheme from Rajanpur, which is an underdeveloped and backward region of Punjab. He said the health cards are being distributed among 213,000 poor families of Rajanpur district, who cannot afford expensive medical care.

He lamented that even the health system in Pakistan was not equitable and was different for the rich and the poor, as the rich get themselves treated from the private hospitals and the poor are left with no option but to visit the public-sector hospitals, which are in bad condition due to the neglect of the successive governments.

The prime minister referred to media reports which quoted Nawaz Sharif as saying that either he should be allowed to travel abroad for medical treatment or be sent to jail. “Sharif family members including Shehbaz Sharif used to get medical treatment from abroad on public funds. Which country allows the rulers to get themselves treated from abroad while the poor masses visit the local public hospitals for medical care,” he questioned, and claimed that Nawaz Sharif’s treatment has cost Rs 280 million to the nation.

The prime minister said that the present government wants to improve the quality of healthcare facilities at public-sector hospitals and bring them at par with the private medical centre, so that all the people including the prime minister get themselves treated from the government hospitals. He said the top management of public-sector institutions including the hospitals should be appointed on the basis of competence and fitness and not on the basis of seniority alone.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Provincial Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid also addressed the function.

Published in Daily Times, February 23rd  2019.