ISLAMABAD, Feb 28 (Alliance News):Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a big initiative to protect the masses from the impact of global inflationary trends, on Monday unveiled a major relief package, including Rs 10 per litre reduction in petroleum prices, Rs 5 per unit cut in electricity tariff and some other measures.
“The government has decided not to increase the prices of petrol and diesel as well as electricity tariff till the next budget,” Imran Khan said in his televised address to the nation.
The prime minister also announced to enhance the cash assistance, provided to eight million families under the government’s Ehsaas Programme, from the current Rs 12,000 to 14,000 to help the poor people.
He announced an internship programme for the unemployed youth, under which those with a graduate degree, would be offered Rs 30,000 per month through a transparent and merit-based system.
The prime minister in his 40-minute speech spoke at length on multiple issues of national importance, including the foreign policy, amendment in the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) Ordinance, and his government’s challenges and achievements including on the economic front.
Imran Khan announced 2.6 million educational scholarships, saying Rs 38 billion would be allocated for the purpose.
He also announced various incentives for the promotion of the information technology (IT) sector, including 100% tax exemption for companies and freelancers, 100 % waiver on repatriation of capital and foreign exchange, and elimination of capital gains tax for startups.
The prime minister said the investment from the overseas Pakistanis, including through joint ventures, would enjoy tax-holiday for five years.
He further said that the government would spend Rs 460 billion for the provision of interest-free loans to the youth under the Kamyab Jawan Programme to start businesses, low-income groups to construct their own houses, and farmers.
The prime minister said contrary to his desire for a Pakistan with an independent foreign policy, the country joined the US-led war on terror and suffered 80,000 casualties, displacement of 3.5 million and $150 billion economic loss despite it having nothing to do with the 9/11.
In spite of getting its support, the US carried out around 400 drone attacks in Pakistan which the prime minister called the “most shameful.”
He said for sake of their legitimacy, the dictators easily fell prey to superpowers usually but ironically, only 10 drone attacks were made in Pervez Musharraf’ tenure against 400 in those of Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif who failed to speak against the killings of the innocent people.
The prime minister told the nation that the leaders having riches abroad and offshore accounts could never take decisions in nation’s interest and advised the people against voting such leaders who could never make independent decisions.
Highlighting his China and Russia visits, the prime minister said Pakistan would import around 2 million tons wheat, and gas from Russia. Moreover, the outcomes of the agreements with China regarding the second phase of CPEC would come to the fore soon, he added.
Regarding the criticism over the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA) ordinance, the prime minister explained that it was promulgated in 2016 and the incumbent government was just amending it to do away with the filth on social media, women harassment and child pornography.
“We are just amending it. The leader who doesn’t violate laws, will never be afraid of free media,” he said and added that currently, almost 70 percent of total news coverage was against the government.
The prime minister told the people that around 94,000 cases related to women harassment, fake news and pictures were pending with the FIA and of those, only 38 cases could be disposed of so far.
He said even a sitting prime minister and his family were not spared from fake news and that even he could not get justice even after three years in a defamation case.
He said recently, a woman was fined by a UK court over defamation and added that Communications Minister Murad Saeed was also considering to register a case there.
Imran Khan said media also alleged that Shaukat Khanum Hospital’s funding was landing into PTI account without even getting the official version. The hospital is also going to file a case against Jang Group in the UK and the US where it was registered as charity, he added.
“It happens nowhere in the world. Here are the mafias blackmailing in name of the freedom of press. They have different agendas. They are blackmailing and mudslinging against government,” he commented.
Calling it essential for the country, he said the PECA had nothing to do with the freedom of press. Instead, good journalists should be happy over the curb of fake news as it would enhance their credibility. Referring to fake news by three leading national newspapers alleging the selection of the AJK prime minister through some sort of necromancy, he said had it happened in the west, they would have to sell out their companies to pay for the libel.