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Imran Khan Vows to Stay in Power

by Staff Report

File photo. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Pakistan’s prime minister slams opposition for its Azadi March during a speech in Gilgit

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday slammed the opposition parties’ ‘Azadi March’ and its demands for his resignation, saying he would neither resign nor agree to a ‘national reconciliation’ with any corrupt person.

Addressing a rally in Gilgit on the occasion of the region’s Independence Day, he reiterated his stance that Pakistan could only prosper if it rooted out corruption and punished all those who had ‘looted’ the country. He implied the Azadi March was a tool of the “unemployed, political orphans, rightists and leftists” to escape the corruption cases launched against them.

According to the prime minister, the opposition’s protest was destined to fail because it lacked a clear agenda. He questioned how liberals such as the Pakistan Peoples Party’s Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari could stand alongside the conservative Maulana Fazlur Rehman and agree to each others’ views. He also slammed Rehman for trying to use religion as a means to make money and reach the corridors of power. He also criticized Rehman’s role in the Kashmir Committee, according to the Associated Press of Pakistan, saying it was a favorite of Indian media.

Khan also, once again, blamed the opposition PPP and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) for causing the country’s economic crisis. He claimed the two parties, in the 10 years prior to his rule, had increased Pakistan’s debt from $6 billion to $30 billion. He made no mention of his government having secured $16 billion in loans in its first year alone.

The premier used the occasion to assure the people of Gilgit-Baltistan that the government would soon resolve their issues. He reiterated his desire to ‘exploit’ the scenic beauty of the region by encouraging tourism and inviting foreign investment to development its infrastructure.

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