ISLAMABAD: Observing that economic sovereignty is a sine qua non for real freedom, Prime Minister Mohammad Shehbaz Sharif has once again offered Charter of Economy to the opposition.

In a televised address to the nation on the eve of 76th Indep­endence Day on Saturday, the prime minister said he had made the offer to the previous PTI government as opposition leader, adding that he wanted to make a renewed offer to the PTI now in opposition.

He said the country was faced with the challenges that can be addressed only with national consensus, continuity of policies and political and economic stability. “It is need of the hour to continue journey in the right direction,” he said.

While advising the opposition not to sacrifice national interest for the sake of ‘ego and stubbornness’, the premier said the real political leadership kept an eye on future of posterity rather than elections.

Shehbaz renews the Charter of Economy offer to opposition

PM Sharif first listed achie­vements made by Pakistan despite all the odds in 75 years before he started criticising PTI, holding it responsible for economic mess and attempts to create anarchy in the country. “Today the nation is facing a crisis of despondency. Seeds of hatred and anarchy are being sown and attempts are underway to divide the nation. Sinister efforts are being made to shatter national solidarity,” he remarked.

He said the economic crisis created by the imprudent economic policies of the previous government had made the things all the more difficult. He, however, noted that every crisis offers opportunities hidden in it. “We need to have eyes to see and determination to achieve them,” he added.

Mr Sharif said the government had already initiated efforts to steer the country out of economic quagmire, which were still going on. As a result of these efforts the country had been saved from going into Dadaist, he said, adding that the previous government left a record trade deficit of 48 billion dollars and the present government had to obtain loans from friendly countries and international financial institutions to curtail it.

“Is it the real independence?” he asked.

He said the PTI government also set a record of external debts by lending Rs 20 thousand billion in less than four years.

He said the PML-N had left the country self-sufficient in wheat in 2018 but regretted that as a result of criminal negligence of the previous government, the country was compelled to spend millions of dollars on import of the commodity. He said the PTI government also failed to sign a long-term contract for import of LNG, when it was available at very low price. He said this was the primary reason for load-shedding and high power tariff.

“May I ask on whose dictates the PTI stopped work on CPEC projects, causing irreparable loss to Pakistan?” he said, reiterating the question of ‘real independence’.

He said the coalition government had decided to install solar projects to generate thousands of megawatts of electricity, which would not only cut the bill on import of fuel but would also provide cheap electricity to the people. He said a complete ban had been imposed on import of non-essential items and as a result the rupee value against dollar was strengthening.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2022

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