LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz sees Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement about forming a commission to investigate a massive rise in foreign debts as a “photocopy of the Panama-like JIT” and predicts that the premier will “soon get his just deserts”.
“I am not a fortune-teller but Imran Khan will soon get his just deserts. Mid-term elections seem to be the answer to the miseries inflicted by the PTI government during the last 10 months,” former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was quoted as having said in the Kot Lakhpat jail during a meeting with his mother, Shamim Akhtar, daughter Maryam Nawaz, and a fair number of senior party leaders here on Thursday.
“The people’s miseries [due to] the unprecedented price hike and inflation have made me sad. Imran Khan is an inept person. His Banigala house was built through corrupt money. No one takes into account Aleema Khanum’s corruption,” he said.
Mr Sharif said that Imran Khan had ruined the country’s economy. “Khan has been hit-wicket because of his anti-people and vindictive policies. A number of corrupt people, including Jehangir Tareen, are in Khan’s party. The prime minister commands no respect in the world; even the Indian prime minister [Narendra Modi] took neither his telephone calls nor invited him to his swearing in ceremony,” said Mr Sharif, even as he serves out a seven-year imprisonment sentence in the Al-Azizia Mills case.
Nawaz launches tirade against PM from jail
Comparing his government with that of the PTI, Mr Sharif said the country had foreign exchange reserves amounting to $24 billion and the dollar’s value had been between Rs100 and Rs106. “While Imran Khan is roaming around the world holding a begging bowl, our government eliminated loadshedding and terrorism,” he said.
Mr Sharif called the arrest of PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his [Sharif’s] nephew Hamza Shahbaz by the National Accountability Bureau, “uncalled for”. “People know what is going on,” he added.
After meeting Mr Sharif, senior PML-N vice-president and former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former ministers Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Rana Sanaullah held a joint press conference at the party’s secretariat in Model Town and questioned Imran Khan’s ‘ambitious desire’ to form a commission to probe into a massive rise in foreign debt.
The PML-N leaders said that their [earlier] government’s five-year loan record was an open story insofar as the loans were spent, and the current government’s effort will be a futile exercise.
“If Imran Khan is so keen to form the commission, he should. The earlier PML-N government took Rs10,000bn in loans during its five-year tenure. With this amount, massive development work was carried out across the country — projects that included energy, nuclear, the fight against terrorism, the fence at the Afghanistan border, motorways and debt servicing,” Mr Abbasi said, adding that if the PTI government remained in power for two years, its loans would swell to Rs10,000bn.
Further, he seemed to have thrown down the gauntlet by asking PM Khan to declare his and his cabinet members’ tax returns of the last 20 years, like him. Addressing Imran Khan, Mr Abbasi said: “Do not hurl threats. All investigation institutions are under you. I challenge you to bring forth any proof of corruption against Nawaz Sharif. Today, merely politicians are being defamed. How will democracy survive when a superior court’s judge, an opposition leader, and parliamentarians are denied [the right] to defend themselves?” He said he was not afraid of being arrested. “One minister [Faisal Vawda] had said that if 5,000 people are hanged, the country’s problems will be solved,” he elaborated, adding that PM Khan had used expletives and a threatening tone during his midnight speech to the nation, showing that he was not mentally stable and opining that a commission should be formed to examine him.
Ahsan Iqbal questioned Mr Khan’s decision to include the ISI and the IB in the planned commission. “This new commission will be a photocopy of the Panama JIT,” he said. “Why was there need to include ISI and IB members in this commission? Going by the subject it should have economists and chartered accountants.” He commented that the government was trying to create a fascist state.
Imran Khan had said that this commission would comprise senior members of the ISI, the IB, the MI, the FIA, the SECP, the Auditor General’s Office, and others.
Khawaja Asif said that “this fascist” government cannot not last longer, maintaining that the government had increased 40 per cent in revenue targets, meaning that inflation and the price hike would rise with this percentage. “The country has been economically enslaved. Imran Khan has sold the country [to the IMF] for his rule,” he said.
Rana Sanaullah said the PTI government had been formed on a stolen mandate. “The budget may not be passed,” he said.
Marriyum Aurangzeb said she had met with the man who made this country an atomic power, brought in CPEC and added 11,000MW to the national grid in the jail on Thursday, and he had a one message – rise up against the economic exploitation of the people.
Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2019