PM Imran Khan asks bureaucracy to support govt’s reforms

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan on Friday urged the bureaucracy to support the government through a “down cycle” time and help implement the government’s “out-of-the-box” policies.

He also said that the country’s debt currently stands at Rs30 trillion.

“We do not have money to run the country,” he revealed.

“Majority of the population is young and looking for jobs; and the loans we took, instead of creating wealth so that we could repay them, have created projects that are running losses,” the PM added.

He also said, “Accountability is our cornerstone and without it, we cannot progress. Corruption is our biggest issue. It isn’t just the looted money that is a problem, but the destruction of institutions in the process that is a great issue. If Imran Khan wants to loot money, he will have to ruin the National Accountability Bureau and post his men in [senior positions] everywhere. Otherwise, I’ll get caught. If there is transparency in the west, it isn’t because they are more honest: it is because their institutions are strong and they are afraid of getting caught.”

Speaking about out-of-school children, malnourished children, high mortality of women in labour, and infant deaths, PM Khan said, “I’m surprised that there hasn’t been outrage over this before.”

PM Khan vowed, “A system working on merit is unmatched, I will free bureaucracy from political intervention. Quick postings and transfers are the most disruptive for governments.”

Commenting on how civil service employees functioned before, he said, “I want our bureaucracy to be at the same level as it was [in the 60s],” he said. Giving the example of his party’s reform of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) police force, he said it was done because it was “isolated from political pressure. We didn’t allow any interference. It was very difficult because our political class is used to this. We bore the pressure, there was a lot of pressure from our MPs. They would tell us ‘We can’t win the election this way.”

“We trained them, did the selection on the basis of merit. And they are now a model police force that we hope to replicate in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. We want our bureaucracy to be the same way ─ promoting people on the basis of merit, isolated from political pressure. When your performance is built on merit, you rise to the top on your own,” he added.

Shedding light on the salary structure of the bureaucracy, the prime minister said in the past, bureaucrats were compensated well and they had no temptation to steal or be corrupt.