LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) President and National Assembly Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif Saturday said that Pakistan was facing severe economic crisis currently, and if not addressed immediately, it could jeopardise the country.
Addressing a press conference here, he said countries that repeat blunders lose their sovereignty and, when they face economic disasters, it is virtually impossible to save them. He quoted the example of Soviet Union, where even its military might could not save it when its economy collapsed. He said the economic blunders committed by the PTI government over the past three years had shaken the foundations of Pakistan.
Inflation and unemployment were threatening the existence of Pakistan. He said that Covid-19 started in March 2020; there was no doubt that the entire world was facing an increase in inflation, but Pakistan was ranked third in the world and first in South Asia as the country with the highest inflation rate right now.
He said the joint opposition warned repeatedly that the government must focus on the situation of the average Pakistani, instead of rich corporations, but they completely ignored it.
He reminded that when the PMLN government left in 2018, the total loans were Rs3,000 billion while inflation was 3-4 per cent. Right now, he said, the conditions by the IMF had choked the entire nation. He said if the PTI government was compared with the Nawaz Sharif government, there was a stark difference. Nawaz left the country with 5.8 GDP growth, while the PTI, after three years, had managed 3.5 per cent GDP. He said the population growth alone was 2.5 per cent which meant that 3.5 per cent GDP growth was barely enough to even meet the population growth percentage.
He pointed out that in 2018, the total debt was around Rs30,000 billion, but the PTI added Rs20,000 billion to it.
Shehbaz said State Bank’s figures reject PTI’s claims that they had paid off debt. He said the best they might have done was that they could have rolled this debt over because the net payments were the same. The entire country was suffering because of the economic destruction caused by the PTI government.
He said it was a saddening that even Bangladesh with a population of 170 million had $320 billion GDP while Pakistan with a population of 220 million had around $270 billion. On the other hand the wholesale price index was at 27 per cent, he added.
About trade deficit, he said dollar was at Rs 122 in June 2018, and now it is at Rs179, which meant that the rupee was devalued by Rs55.
The NA opposition leader said the government was going to impose Rs4 petroleum development levy every month and it would re-impose sales tax, which would further burden the already crushed Pakistanis. He said the PTI had made Pakistan a slave of the IMF.
Shehbaz rejected claims of rift between the opposition parties and praised the unity of the joint opposition over national issues. He said that they would continue to fight the case of Pakistan inside and outside the parliament.
Responding to a question, he said Dec 6 meeting of the joint opposition would decide the details regarding the long march.
Shehbaz said claims of the PTI government being honest and transparent are the biggest lie in the history of the country. He said the PTI government was the most incompetent, corrupt, laidback and inexperienced government in the history of the country.
The entire nation was suffering because a selected, illegal government was formed as a result of rigged elections.
He condemned the Sialkot incident and said the PTI exploited religious issues for political gains, but the PMLN did not do so during the current incident.
He said that Pakistan enjoys good diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka and hoped that the culprits of this horrific incident would be punished according to law.