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Pakistan politics

Man with a Plan

All eyes were set on TV screens as Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation for the first time after assuming charge of the country’s top office.

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Prime minister Imran Khan promised sweeping reforms in his inaugural address to the nation. He pledged that his government would take steps to cut spending, introduce new anti-corruption laws, and take serious measures for the welfare of the country.

The address started with the recitation of Holy Quran and the national anthem of Pakistan.

Also read: Top 10 schools of Pakistan

“I thank my workers who have been with me since 22 years in this ‘jihad’,” said Khan. “Following the footsteps of my role models Quaid-e-Azam and Prophet Mohammad PBUH, my aim would be to make this country what it was supposed to be.”

The PTI chief paid tribute to his party workers who supported and backed him when no one else was ready to do.

Commenting on the country’s current situation, the premier said debts are rising and human development index of Pakistan is showing a downward trend according to the UNDP report.

“We are from the nation where new born babies and women still die at the time of birth. Over 45% children in Pakistan die due to malnutrition,” PM Khan said. “I am telling you this because we will try and change all of this.”

He also mentioned the prime minister of Pakistan enjoys 524 servants, 80 cars and 33 bullet-proof cars, costing Rs50 million each despite being a poor country.

“On one hand, there’s a poor nation and on the other there’s this ruling elite. They live like the British when they colonised us.”

PM Khan said the prime minister of Pakistan has 524 servants, 80 cars and 33 bullet-proof cars, costing Rs50 million each despite being a poor country.

“On one hand, there’s a poor nation and on the other there’s this ruling elite. They live like the British when they colonised us.”

He said Pakistan is going through the most severe economic crisis, adding that the country’s debt has surpassed Rs28,000 billion. “Rs650 million were spent on PM’s foreign trips. The Speaker National Assembly has a budget of Rs160 million, out of which he spends Rs80 million on foreign trips.”

Talking about education more than 20 million children are not going to schools in the country. “Pakistan is 7th on the list of countries who will suffer most from global warming.”

PM Khan said: “We need to rethink our approach and the way we live. The country cannot progress if it keeps heading the way it is. Countries of the West only developed when they followed the principles laid down by Holy Prophet PBUH.”

He said the country is indebted to throat at one end, and on the other is the extravagant lifestyle of our rulers.

PM Khan said: “We need to rethink our approach and the way we live. The country cannot progress if it keeps heading the way it is. Countries of the West only developed when they followed the principles laid down by Holy Prophet PBUH.”

He said the country is indebted to throat at one end, and on the other is the extravagant lifestyle of our rulers.

Khan said none of his governors will reside in the governor houses. “We’ll build an elite university in the PM House where research will be done.”

PM Imran categorically ruled out living at the PM House and vowed to build a high-profile university at the premises. He also announced to auction luxury vehicles of the PM house and put the money into the national kitty.

A task force would be made under Dr Ishrat Hussain, which will recommend austerity measures that can be adopted by the government.

“We will have to cut down our expenses,” said the newly-elected premier, stressing that taking loans and aides from other countries was something the government had to learn to live without.

The former cricket legend announced to use only two cars, and live in a three-bed apartment and have only two servants as the prime minister. “I cannot live at Bani Gala due to security concerns,” he added.

Khan said that austerity would be practised at all CM and governor houses of the country.

“When a leader begs for money, a nation loses its respect … we will have to become a great nation by giving sacrifices, not begging.”

The prime minister said that only 0.8 million of the 200 million people pay taxes in the country. “The country cannot progress like this … FBR needs to be reformed,” he added.

He said another task force is being formed to recover money that is being laundered out of Pakistan. “Never vote for a political party whose leader has wealth stacked abroad,” he added.

Stressing need to increase exports, the prime minister said the government would facilitate industries in this regard. “Small industries are the backbone of any country and we will create ease for them to do business in the country.”

Khan said the PM Secretariat would have an office to deal with problems faced by investors. “We need to uplift small-scale industries.”

He said Pakistan’s embassies would be tasked to facilitate overseas Pakistanis, and release Pakistani inmates languishing in prisons across the world. “We would create investment opportunities for overseas Pakistanis … we will contact our embassies to tell us how many of our citizens are locked up abroad and for what crimes.”

Commenting over eradicating corruption from the country, PM Khan said no country can progress where corruption is rampant. “We will strengthen the NAB (National Accountability Bureau) … we will pass the Whistle-blower Act like we did in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.”

Speaking over not appointing an interior minister, PM Khan said he is keeping the portfolio of Ministry of Interior. “In order to reform the justice system for the masses, I will meet with the chief justice of Pakistan.”

He said that impending cases must not prolong for more than a year. “Many widows have come to me whose lands have been illegally taken away from them. I would request the CJP to resolve their cases as soon as possible.”

The prime minister announced that former police officer Nasir Durrani will be appointed as an adviser to reform the police force in Punjab.

Speaking about rampant child abuse cases in the society, he said his government would come down hard on culprits in child abuse cases. “The salaried class sacrifice a lot to ensure their children get a decent education from private schools as the public schools are in abysmal conditions. We also need to raise the standards at seminaries, so pupil at madrassahs can also have better opportunities in life.”

PM Khan was initially scheduled to address the nation at 8pm, however, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry announced on Twitter that the former’s address would be aired at 9:30pm.

PTI’s nominee for the post of president Dr Arif Alvi had also shed light on Khan’s speech earlier in the day, saying the prime minister would chalk out a road map today and would elaborate on “our future strategy. Hopefully, he would abide by all promises that he has made to the public.”

Earlier in the day, the chairman of  ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) also called for a parliamentary meeting to discuss presidential elections and other key matters.

The meeting was attended by PTI leaders including senators, members of national and provincial assemblies and coalition partners.

Pakistan News

Maryam’s interview “stopped forcefully:” Nadeem Malik

An interview of Maryam Nawaz Sharif, a vice president of the PML-N, was “forcefully” taken off air soon after it was run, it was reported on Thursday.

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Maryam Nawaz

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: An interview of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif was taken off air forcefully seconds after it started.

“Just came to know Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s interview has been stopped forcefully just [a] few minutes after it started live,” tweeted show host Nadeem Malik.

Hum News, the channel on which the interview was aired for a few brief moments, released a statement shortly after the incident, saying: “Hum News believes in a free and responsible media. Protecting freedom of expression is one of our core values. At the same time, we stand for the respect and dignity of [the] judiciary in line with our ethical values and the Constitution.”

The development comes days after AbbTakk TV24 News, and Capital TV all had their broadcasts cut after screening a press conference by Maryam Nawaz.

Authorities say the three channels were unavailable due to “technical issues”, but Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a global media watchdog, described the outage as an act of “brazen censorship”.

It slammed the local authorities over the removal of three television channels from the country’s airwaves, saying the move was “indicative of disturbing dictatorial tendencies” as pressure mounts on journalists in Pakistan.

READ MORE: Arrest me if you want to, I won’t run away like your master Musharraf: Hamid Mir

Maryam is the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — who is currently behind bars for corruption — and a recent press conference she hosted featured a judge reportedly claiming he had been blackmailed into convicting the former premier.

The move came as Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration vowed to block any media coverage and interviews of politicians “who are convicts and under trial”.

Earlier this month, Geo News TV abruptly took an interview with former president Asif Ali Zardari off air shortly after it began.

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Pakistan News

Several dead and dozens injured in Pakistan train collision

A collision between a passenger train and a stationary freight train near the central town of Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan has killed at least 10 people, with more than 70 others injured, according to police and hospital officials.

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RAHIM YAR KHAN, Pakistan: A collision between a passenger train and a stationary freight train near the central town of Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan has killed at least 10 people, with more than 70 others injured, according to police and hospital officials.

The incident on Thursday took place at the Walhar railway station, located about 35km south of Rahim Yar Khan.

“The Akbar Express [passenger train] going from Bahawalpur to Quetta hit a freight train that was parked there at 7.40am,” a local police official told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to media.

Senior police official Umar Salamat told local media the collision took place because the passenger train was diverted onto the incorrect track at the station, hitting the parked freight train.

Rescue operations were under way at the collision site, with workers using equipment to get to some of those trapped in the train wreckage, local media reported.

The injured were taken to a nearby government hospital and to a more advanced facility in Rahim Yar Khan, hospital officials said.

Nine of the dead were taken to the government hospital, with more than 60 people injured in the wreck also treated there, Liaquat Chohan, a senior hospital official, told Al Jazeera.

“The injuries were of multiple types – many had fractures, others had bleeding wounds. Some were crushed under objects,” he said.

At least one dead body was also taken to the Sheikh Zayed hospital in Rahim Yar Khan, where 11 of those wounded in the accident were being treated, hospital official Ilyas Ahmer told Al Jazeera.

“One person’s leg was cut off [in the collision], and another is having serious chest surgery,” he said.

‘Emergency steps’

Pakistan’s aging railway network carries both passengers and goods across the country, but suffers periodic derailments and other accidents due to aging infrastructure.

A major Chinese investment in the country is seeking to upgrade the main railway line that connects the length of the country, raising speeds and safety standards.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his condolences for those who were killed and injured, and ordered Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad to speed up work on the country’s rail infrastructure.

“Have asked Railways Minister to take emergency steps to counter decades of neglect of railway infrastructure & ensure safety standards,” Khan tweeted after the accident.

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Russia denies inviting Imran Khan to Eastern Economic Forum

Russia has conveyed to India that it has not invited Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in September.

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan/MOSCOW, Russia: Russia has denied inviting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) to be held in eastern Russian city of Vladivostok in September.

“We draw attention to the publications in a number of South Asian media that the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Imran Khan was invited to the events of the Eastern Economic Forum (WEF-5) in Vladivostok (September 4-6, this year) as the guest of honor. We would like to give some explanations in this regard… We expect that the President of Mongolia H. Battulga, Prime Minister of India N.Modi, Prime Minister of Malaysia M. Mohammad and the Prime Minister ofJapan S. Abe will arrive in the capital of Primorye,” stated Russian Foreign Ministry.

Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal on Tuesday also termed reports regarding Prime Minister Imran Khan’s participation in the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Russia as “speculative”.

Taking to Twitter, Dr Faisal said Pakistan and Russia remain in contact about engagement at the highest level.

“Any announcement in this regard would be made formally at [the] appropriate time,” he wrote.

Sources in the FO earlier told Pakistani media outlets that Prime Minister Imran Khan would join the EEF meeting in Russia on the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The invitation was extended by President Putin during the recently-held Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting that both leaders had attended, the sources had said.

Following the reports, however, Indian media outlets quoted diplomatic sources as saying that the Russian foreign ministry had dismissed reports that PM Imran had been invited for the forum in September, where The Economic Times said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the chief guest.

It was not clear whether the FO spokesperson was terming the reports in the Indian media as speculative or those published by the Pakistani media, or both.

His statement comes as Prime Minister Imran is scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump on July 22 during an official working visit to Washington.

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