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'3 Stooges Looting the Country for Years': Pak PM Imran Khan's Dig at Opposition

Pakistan PM Imran Khan is staring at arguably his tenure's biggest political challenge so far.

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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief attacked the "corrupt" opposition leaders, saying they have been looting the country for years and he would never forgive them during a large rally at Islamabad's Parade Ground on Sunday, 27 March.

PTI supporters had assembled at the venue in large numbers in a show of strength ahead of the no-confidence vote submitted by the opposition against him, reported Dawn News.

Taking a dig at the opposition, Khan said, "Poor countries are backward because the law there fails to catch the rich who are involved in white-collar crimes. They transfer stolen and looted money to offshore accounts. Small thieves do not destroy a country like the way big thieves do."

"These 'three stooges' are looting the country for years and all this drama is being done to have Imran Khan surrender like Musharraf. They are trying to blackmail the government. General Musharraf tried to save his government and gave these thieves NRO and it resulted in the destruction of Pakistan," he added.

"Come what may, I will not forgive them even if my government goes or even if I lose my life," he added.

The PM went on to indicate that foreign elements have been attempting to "mend the country’s foreign policy” and oust the government in Pakistan.

“Attempts are being made through foreign money to change the government in Pakistan. Our people are being used. Mostly inadvertently, but some people are using money against us. We know from what places attempts are being to pressure us. We have been threatened in writing but we will not compromise on national interest."
Imran Khan, as per Hindustan Times
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Khan, who arrived at the venue in a helicopter, was expected to address the crowd at 5:30 pm (IST) on Sunday, 27 March. However, he took the podium after his fellow PTI leaders took turns to address their party workers and supporters.

Lauds PTI's Performance in the Last 3.5 Years

Khan also said that no previous government performed as PTI had in the last three and a half years.

"I called you here because attempts are being made to bribe people. They decided to dislodge our government by claiming that Pakistan is being destroyed. I challenge that no government gave a performance like we did in our three and a half years."

He also spoke about his government's measures to alleviate the burden on the public.

"We are providing loans to families for housing, technical education and small businesses. As soon as our tax was enhanced, I announced a subsidy and reduced rates of petrol and 'Fazlur Rehman'," he said. "I also offered a subsidy in power tariff. I promise I will spend more money on my people as our government collects more capital in taxes."

Talking about the COVID-19 crisis in the country, he said:

"COVID erupted that led to closure of the world but I I did not shut my country and faced criticism. I can proudly say that Pakistan's steps were acknowledged by the world as they helped save the economy."

Speaking about the poverty rate in Pakistan, Imran Khan said, "World Bank recently released a report, which said Pakistan is the country where poverty is minimal. Later, our growth rate was more than 6 per cent. It stunned the opposition and the world."

Imran Khan further said that the country's exports had reached a historic high in the said period.

"We collected unprecedented tax. We gave incentives to overseas Pakistanis and received record remittances. We formed an ease-of-business model for the construction sector that led to the growth of 30 other allied industries."

"We saw record crops. It happened because we facilitated our farmers. We protected them. Now Pakistan's industries are growing rapidly. Textile industries are struggling to find labour because all industries are working at their full capacity. This is the first time government is supporting its industries."

He also asked television anchors to invite economic experts on their shows so that they could compare the performance of his government with those of the previous ones.

Pays Tribute to His Team of Parliamentarians For Not Accepting Bribes

At the beginning of his address, he said, "First of all, I thank my nation. I also pay tribute to my team of parliamentarians as you were offered money and attempts were made to bribe you but you made me happy and I am proud of you."

"I invited you for Amr Bil Maroof (enjoin the good) to emphasise that our Pakistan was built on the ideology of Islamic welfare state. We had to build the country on the basis of Riyasat e Madina. You must understand that we cannot become a nation until we stand by our actual ideology," he added.

Earlier, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak urged the PTI supporters to stand with Imran Khan. "I hope that you will stand with Imran Khan till the day he breathes his last."

"You will see... the opposition will cry after four days," he added.

Khattak said that the National Assembly members who abandoned PTI never originally belonged to the party. "You will see... they will regret it."

Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi explained the reasons behind the opposition's no-confidence motion.

"Because, during Imran Khan's tenure, Pakistan broke all records of tax collection... because Imran Khan is finally getting us out of FATF... because Imran Khan made Kashmir a national issue... because Imran Khan, who is an honorable man, said 'absolutely not'," he said.

No-Confidence Vote Against Imran Likely Scheduled for 28 March

After three and a half years of rule, Imran Khan is staring at his tenure's arguably the biggest political challenge so far with the no-confidence vote against him likely scheduled for 28 March.

In an audio message shared on social media, Imran said that the rally on Sunday was not a fight for the future of his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), but a fight for the entire nation. "This is a battle for the future of Pakistan."

Along with the opposition, a rebellion has risen in Pakistan's ruling party itself, with around two dozen lawmakers of the PTI coming out against PM Khan.

This comes days after around 100 lawmakers from Pakistan's Opposition parties had submitted a no-confidence motion against the ruling government in the National Assembly Secretariat.

(Read our explainer here on why there is a no-confidence motion against Imran's government.)

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Imran's show of strength is witnessing supporters of his party gather from within the capital and outside it.

But even as supporters of Imran and his party PTI assemble in Islamabad, the opposition is conducting counter-rallies too.

For example, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, along with Punjab opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz led a rally to the capital, calling it the last nail in the coffin of the PTI government.

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