Promising that all corrupt leaders will go to jail, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that no politicians and officials who have put Pakistan into the debt trap through their corrupt practices will get protection from any legislation like the defunct National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).
The controversial NRO was promulgated in October 2007 by the government of then-president Gen Pervez Musharraf. Under the ordinance, cases against politicians were removed, paving the way for many of them to return to the country. It was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in December 2009.
Addressing the nation on Wednesday to share the details of his efforts to bring cash-strapped Pakistan out of financial difficulties, Prime Minister Khan lashed out at the previous governments for raising Pakistan's debt to Rs 30,00,000 crore.
In a reference to the PPP and PML-N, Khan said the opposition parties that are accusing his government of incompetence are doing so because they fear that "their corruption will be unearthed when we do an audit of the Rs 30,00,000 crore.
"They just want an NRO from us," he said. "I want to give them a message: 'open your ears and hear this: you can come out on the streets. We will give you containers and give you food. You can do whatever you want in the assemblies... (But) no one will get an NRO'," he was quoted as saying by the Dawn.
"No corrupt person will be let go," Khan said, recalling that he had been elected by the nation on the promise that he will "put the corrupt people in jails".
The premier said the country has no future until and unless corruption is rooted out.
"The fake bank accounts... where is all this money coming from? The money is being stolen (from the nation). The country's leaders then have to go and ask for loans abroad... because dollars are laundered out of the country," he said.
He said the entire burden of loans taken by corrupt officials falls on the nation. Taxes are imposed and prices are raised in order for the country to be able to pay back the loans.
"This is the cycle that is functioning in Pakistan... a small class is growing wealthier, while the masses are becoming poorer."
In order to break this cycle, Khan said, the government will ensure accountability is carried out "no matter what anyone does".
Urging the nation to not be dismayed by the economic difficulties, he said his government was cracking down against corruption and money laundering.
"Don't worry at all," he told the nation, adding that people who tolerate a corrupt leadership, unfortunately, have to pay the price for it.
He said the government is making all-out efforts to prevent stolen money from flowing out of the country.