Addressing the Senate for the first time as prime minister, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said his government will raise the matter before the United Nations (UN), adding: “However, I do not think that would do much.”
The Senate had passed a resolution to bring the UN’s attention to the matter regarding the announcement by the leader of Dutch Freedom Party and Parliamentarian Geert Wilders to hold a competition of blasphemous caricatures. The Foreign Office (FO) last week had called the charge d’affaires of the Netherlands to record a protest against the announcement by Wilders.
“Our government will raise the matter in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and ask the Muslim countries to come up with a collective policy that could then be brought up at international forums.”
“This should have been done years ago,” PM Khan said while giving the example of the Holocaust and how four European countries have jail sentences for “anyone who misquotes the figures of Holocaust. That is because they realise that this is something that hurts the sentiments of the Jewish community.”
“We need a similar policy for this matter so that people do not repeatedly hurt our sentiments.”
‘Raising the importance of the Senate’
Discussing his reason for being in the Senate, PM Khan said that he and his ministers would continue to raise the importance of the Senate and the National Assembly by making sure that government representation is present in all sessions.
“It is up to the government to raise the importance of these institutions,” he said, announcing that his government would set a precedent of “question time”, an exercise where the prime minister will be present on the floor of the House to answer questions regarding government policies.
“I have told the speaker to devise the rules for this and this practice will begin soon,” the prime minister said, stressing on the need for accountability of leaders.
Speaking about his government’s efforts to minimise overall spending, PM Khan said: “I am here today to convince the senators […] to take part in the austerity drive launched by the government.”
“We are trying that all governmental expenses are minimised; this will only bring in minimal saving, but it will send out the message to taxpayers that we care about where their money is spent,” the prime minister said.
“This country is amongst the top five most charitable countries and we are also among countries that pay the least amount of tax — that is because people have not trusted past governments,” PM Khan said, while adding that the austerity drive is an effort to change that.
“The ruling elite should show by example that peoples’ tax money is being spent on them,” the prime minister said.
“On one hand we are cutting our costs and on the other, we are looking for ways to increase our revenue, including reforming the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR),” PM Khan said while adding that other such measures would be discussed in the parliament soon.
Khan had announced the new government’s plan to cut down costs in his first speech to the nation as the prime minister.