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Would have sent people on Haj for free had Pakistan not had debts: Imran

Imran 6
Cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), speaks to members of media after casting his vote at a polling station during the general election in Islamabad, Pakistan, July 25, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Islamabad: At a time when Imran Khan is facing an uphill task in trying to revive Pakistan’s crumbling economy, the PM has said that he would have sent people for Haj free of cost had the country not been under the burden of debts.

Khan has been at the receiving end of severe backlash – most of it from opposition parties – after his government withdrew the subsidy given on Haj for this year, on January 31. Many have questioned the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government for getting rid of the subsidy in an Islamic state. It a bid to shield his government from the onslaught, Khan pointed the accusatory finger at previous governments. “If you hadn’t left the country in this condition (and) if we didn’t have so many debts, then we would certainly send pilgrims (to Haj) for free,” he was quoted as saying by Dawn. He also blamed the previous governments for being oblivious to the country’s debt which, he claimed, had gone up from Pakistani Rs 6,000 billion to Pakistani Rs 30,000 billion in 10 years.


Khan further said that while his government is sensitive to the needs of people, it is also committed to taking Pakistan out of its current economic state.

Khan won the elections in August of last year on the back of the promise of fighting corruption and poverty. To many, it seemed like an arduous task but supporters maintain that expecting an overnight miracle is unfair. Pakistan has been in talks with the International Monetary Fund for yet another bailout package while it has also been looking at China and Saudi Arabia for financial assistance.