LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday hit out at Prime Minister Imran Khan, claiming the latter is deceiving both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the people of Pakistan by announcing “fake” relief packages, while a federal minister jumped to the PM’s defence, saying the respite announced by the premier has unnerved the opposition that has a habit of criticising the government for the sake of criticism.

During a televised address to the nation on Monday, PM Khan had announced a reduction of Rs10 in petrol prices and Rs5 in electricity tariff till the next federal budget.

In a statement, Mr Shehbaz said he was praying Mr Khan did not take a U-turn on the reduction in prices of petrol and electricity. “Imran is playing a game equivalent to a Ponzi scheme where the IMF is being manipulated to please the people and the people exploited to please the Fund,” he claimed.

The PML-N president further said economic, national and public interests were being “sacrificed” to save Mr Khan’s sinking ship and his cronies’ politics. “If the petrol price has come down then why hasn’t inflation? Who will reduce the (transport) fares?” he questioned. “Under the Imran-led rule, corrupt, illegal profiteers have the government’s blessings while the people and the media are being oppressed and gagged through black laws such as the Peca ordinance.

Murad says opposition has a habit of criticising for the sake of criticism

“The possibility of an increase of Rs94 per metric million British thermal unit… (in gas price) from July 1 is proof of the hollowness of the government’s package. The liquefied petroleum gas price hike by Rs27 per kilogram and domestic cylinder price by Rs319 is snatching away the right to live from people.”

The opposition leader also took on the government for the foreign debt having exceeded $47.55 billion in 43 months. “This means the government borrows $1 billion every month from abroad. No government in history burdened the nation with so much debt in three years,” he bemoaned.

He said the looming threat of a diesel crisis in the country was alarming, with inflation reaching a 24-month high. “An increase of Rs2.90 per unit by K-Electric is tantamount to withdrawing the so-called relief (announced just a few days ago). Why is the electricity tariff being increased again after the Imran government announced a reduction till the budget?” he questioned.

Murad’s presser

Meanwhile, Minister for Comm­unications Murad Saeed claimed the relief package announced by the PM had unnerved the opposition that has a habit of criticising the “people-friendly government” for the sake of criticism, according to APP.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the minister expressed surprise that the opposition was criticising the relief package instead of commending it.

He said Mr Khan was focusing on the welfare of the less privileged, while the opposition was attempting to safeguard its wealth “earned through unfair means”.

He said various initiatives of the government taken for the welfare of the masses were the actual pain for the opposition parties.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2022

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