PML-N slams PTI's 'anti-public policies', demands govt to disclose IMF conditions

Updated May 20, 2019

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Former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi speaks to the media after PML-N meeting at the Parliament House. — DawnNewsTV screengrab
Former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi speaks to the media after PML-N meeting at the Parliament House. — DawnNewsTV screengrab

The PML-N demanded on Monday that the government come forward with the conditions set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) so that the "public would know the deal we have made with the Fund".

Talking to the media after a party meeting at the Parliament House, former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that there were "a lot of suspicions" regarding the conditions that the government had agreed to with the Fund.

Abbasi, while talking to reporters, said that the State Bank of Pakistan had raised the policy interest rate by 1.5 per cent all of a sudden which would have an adverse affect on the business community and will also lead to an increase in unemployment.

"In any country, if the rate increases even by 0.1pc, it becomes part of a public debate [...] whereas here, the budget has not been announced, the deal with the IMF has not even been signed yet and the State Bank increased the policy interest rate by 1.5pc," he said.

Abbasi announced that the PML-N had decided to propose an "alternative economic strategy" in order to protect the country from "this government's anti-public policies".

The party will also put forward a set of demands that should be included in the budget, Abbasi said. Those demands include:

  • In light of the rising inflation, minimum wage should be increased to Rs20,000
  • Tariffs of power and gas be reverted to that of May 31, 2018 as the increase in prices is not justified
  • Prices of urea and diammonium phosphate (DAP) be reverted to that of May 31, 2018
  • Prices of petrol and diesel be "brought down to a level where they are tolerable"
  • No new taxes should be introduced in the upcoming budget
  • Current tax rates should not be increased in the upcoming budget

He denied that the party was planning to protest against the government and said: "This is a fallen government. We don't mean to overthrow it, our real aim [is to solve] public's problems."

Today's meeting was held in the opposition leader's chamber and was attended by PML-N parliamentarians and the party's central, provincial and district leadership. Maryam Nawaz, one of PML-N's vice presidents, also attended the meeting. This is the first party meeting that she has attended since being appointed as one of the party's vice presidents.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Maryam rubbished the notion that there were differences within the Sharif brothers, saying that Shahbaz Sharif considers Nawaz Sharif as his leader and shared the latter's narrative.

"Shahbaz Sharif recognises Nawaz Sharif as his leader... Maybe his way of expressing [the narrative] is different," she said and added that the narrative of the party was the same which was "vote ko izzat do" (respect the vote).

In response to a question regarding PML-N's weak role in the opposition, she hinted that the party will play a stronger role in the parliament from now on.

She also criticised the National Accountability Bureau, declaring that the anti-corruption watchdog was had "no credibility".

The meeting comes a day after PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari hosted an "informal get together" over iftar for opposition party leaders, which general secretary Farhatullah Babar described as an opportunity for the young chairman to establish a rapport with other lawmakers.

The parties, after the dinner, announced their plans to "launch protests inside and outside the parliament after Eidul Fitr" and hold an All Parties Conference (APC) to "chalk out a joint strategy on how to tackle the problems facing Pakistan".