ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday ruled out talks with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on fresh elections.
Addressing a press conference here at Prime Minister House, the prime minister questioned how talks were possible with person like Imran who is a liar, fraud, deceives the nation and maligns armed forces.
Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Informational and Broadcasting Marryium Aurengzeb, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Syed Fahd Husain were also present on the occasion.
Responding to a question, the premier said that Senator Ishaq Dar met President Arif Alvi with his permission on president’s desire. He pointed out that the PTI government also ridiculed his offer of Charter of Democracy which he made on floor of the National Assembly and mocked the same a desire to seek NRO.
He rejected rumours of default risk saying that Pakistan was not created to become a default state. “Imran Khan wanted to see Pakistan default like Sri Lanka but it will never default,” the prime minister said.
Shehbaz said that they did not sacrifice their politics for fresh elections but for the sake of state and still could move forward a hundred steps for national interests. He said that the UK newspaper Daily Mail apologised not only to him but to 220 million people of the country despite the fact that newspaper’s management used delayed tactics in doing so for three years after publication of article against him.
“Daily Mail’s unconditional apology is a success of 220 million Pakistanis especially those poor children and mothers who were benefitting from the donors money that was targeted,” he said.
He said that it was such a heartless campaign initiated by the PTI that they did not bother to think about dignity of the country in their malice of defaming and maligning the Sharif family. He said that Daily Mail’s article mentioned that money amounting 600 million pounds by DFID to Punjab during the years 2008 to 2018 were laundered by Shehbaz Sharif and his children. “The money was used transparently and I sent a legal notice to the paper but it lingered the litigation for three years but it ended in an unconditional apology,” he said.
He pointed out that despite passage of three years, Shahzad Akbar failed to produce documents to prove his allegations which also led to his vindication by the National Crime Agency (NCA) of the UK.
On the other hand, the prime minister said that article published by the Financial Times alleged that Imran Khan spent donations for Shaukat Khanum Hospital for his political campaigns.
He said that by selling a specially designed watch gifted by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and containing model of Holy Kaaba, Imran Khan committed the cheapest act. He said Imran not only played havoc with the national economy but also deteriorated relations with friendly countries and ruled over the country with rudeness.
He said that by maligning the PMLN leadership, Imran tried to give an impression that Pakistan was a corrupt country and apparently gave a message to the donors that they should not give a single penny to it. “This malicious campaign also damaged Pakistan and mistrust was created regarding funding from donors to the country,” he said.
He pointed out that the Pakistan government had to beg before the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for loan because they were not ready to trust the government due to bad image of the country as created by the PTI chairman. “We sacrificed our politics for the sake of state and saved the country from default,” Shehbaz said.
The prime minister said that it was very painful to raise prices of commodities and the government did it under compulsion. He regretted that Maryam Nawaz and Faryal Talpur were arrested on fake charges while on the other hand Imran gave amnesty to his sister and managed NRO for her from the Federal Board of Revenue.
Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar said on one hand presented Pakistan as corrupt country while on the other he used to ask investors to bring their money in the country. To a question, the prime minister said that wrist watch sold out by Imran was respect and honour of 220 million people of the country.
Asked to comment on Imran’s request to General Asim Munir to help him, the prime minister was confident that the new Army Chief was a professional soldier and would serve the country with his abilities. To a question, Senator Ishaq Dar ruled out any chances of default, saying that such rhetoric should now come to an end. He said that when the PMLN’s last government departed, the tax to GDP ratio was 62% which currently stands at 72% whereas in United States’ same ratio was 110%.
Ishaq Dar said some elements were peddling a false narrative that Pakistan was about to default or might have already reached that point. Providing the data when the PMLN handed over the government to PTI, Dar said inflation was between 4.6%-4.8%, the food inflation stood at 2%, GDP growth was 6.1%, the stock market was among the best-performing markets in the world, and the policy rate was at 6.5%.
“These were among the core things that he received. Rs25,000 billion was the overall loan that they were handed over from the previous government — but they claimed that it stood at Rs30,000 billion.”
Dar said the PTI government would tell investors and friendly countries that it was in a “debt trap” and that the previous governments were “corrupt”. The senator said while telling the global community that Pakistan was in a “debt trap”, the PTI government expected international investors to invest their money in the country. “Who would do that?”
Dar claimed that in line with the PTI’s promises, its government had to cut down the loans by Rs10,000 billion — from Rs25,000 to Rs15,000. “But that wasn’t the case.” The senator said during the PTI government, inflation skyrocketed, the rupee fell massively against the dollar, increased the loans drastically to Rs44,500 billion or an increase of 75 percent.
“Their government was confused. They did not have a revenue plan […] and they also pushed the country to the brink of default,” the finance minister said, claiming that PTI preferred politics over the state.
Dar said PTI installed “land mines” in terms of economy as they did not meet the commitments made with the IMF. “This devastated the economy.” But despite PTI’s bad policies, Dar said, the incumbent government was quick to move the Fund and took unpopular decisions for the economy’s revival.
“Pakistan will not default. The prime minister has taken bold decisions so there is no reason as to why Pakistan will default,” the finance minister added. To a question Dar said that US dollar was being smuggled out of the country and action would be taken to curb this practice. He said Pakistan was importing fertilisers and wheat but that too were also being smuggles out of the country, adding that to stop the smuggling the government will seal the border if it had to.