PM to approach ‘people if IMF deal delayed’

Shehbaz promises exemplary punishment to May 9 rioters

Our Correspondent June 12, 2023
PM Shehbaz Sharif addresses the inauguration ceremony of the Sabzazar Sports Complex in Lahore. PHOTO: APP


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Sunday he would approach the public in case the government was unable to seal the deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the bailout package before its expiry on June 30.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony of the Sabzazar Sports Complex, Shehbaz still appeared optimistic about that deal with the global lender, saying that his government had fulfilled all the conditions for the release of the IMF tranche.

“Pakistan has fulfilled all the conditions and is hopeful that the agreement with the IMF will be signed during the current month,” Shehbaz said. “If the IMF agreement is delayed, I will appeal to the people of Pakistan,” he added, without elaborating.

Many believe that chances for the revival of the current $6.5 billion IMF programme have almost diminished, as the programme is going to end on June 30. Out of the $6.5 billion package, the IMF has not yet disbursed $2.6 billion.

Shehbaz blamed the previous government for current economic crisis, saying that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government violated the agreement with the IMF. “The PTI government had all its focus on sending the opposition to prisons,” he added.

The prime minister said that the “fascist regime of the PTI”, which came into power as a result of “rigged 2018 elections” put all development projects on halt. “All Chinese projects were cancelled and no development was made during the PTI’s four years term.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, Shehbaz said, gas prices had hit rock bottom but the then PTI government did not avail this opportunity. The PTI government had all its focus on pushing its opponents against the wall.

Highlighting the initiatives announced in the federal budget, the prime minister said the poor man was caught in the inflation mill. He emphasised that the prices of petroleum products and other goods increased because of the Russia-Ukraine war.

The inflation rate soared so high that it had become impossible to make both ends meet even at Rs50,000 per month earnings, he said. “Despite difficult economic situation, the government is trying to give relief to the salaried class,” he added.

“We have increased government employees’ salaries by 35% for those in BPS 1-16 and 30% for those in BPS 17 and above,” he continued. “Minimum wage has also been increased from Rs25,000 to Rs32,000,” he said.

The prime minister told the ceremony that the May 9 violence was no less than an attack by the enemy. “In 75 years of the country’s history, nobody ever attempted to attack the army installations,” he said.

“The law will take its course against those who attacked the Jinnah House at the instigation of the PTI chairman. Those involved in the [May 9] incidents will get exemplary punishments, so nobody could dare repeat any such incident,” he said.

Shehbaz underscored that the country could not get economic stability without political stability, saying that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) would bring political and economic stability under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif.

“Rest assured that the time will come that Pakistan will be back on track of economic development under Nawaz Sharif and I will continue to serve the nation till my last breath,” he concluded.

Recalling the days when he was the chief minister of Punjab, Shehbaz said he worked tirelessly to provide modern sport facilities to the people but the PTI government had abandoned these projects.

The Sabzazar Sports Complex is the first of a total 14 sports facilities planned during Shehbaz’s term as Punjab chief minister. The residents of Sabzazar would get free entry to the sports complex, while bright students would also be given free membership.

Earlier, the prime minister inspected different sections of the sports complex and interacted with young athletes and school children. Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqavi was also present on the occasion.


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