Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Friday castigated PTI Chairman Imran Khan for misleading the nation by stating “incorrect” facts regarding the previous government’s performance and challenged the ex-premier to a live debate on the country’s economy.
Earlier today, the PTI chief had held the coalition government responsible for the country’s economic woes and compared the current setup with his government.
In response to the claims, a visibly angry Dar thundered against Imran, holding him to be “solely responsible” for the destruction of Pakistan’s economy.
“Imran Niazi once again lied today and tried to mislead the people,” the minister said, referring to the PTI chief’s televised address.
“His habit of lying has not gone away. Even in today’s media talk, he quoted the wrong figures […] everything he said was based on lies.
“I believe that giving these false numbers is not appropriate […] you can hold a live debate and bring the economic survey and the State Bank documents […] we can do a debate […] But don’t mislead the public like this,” the minister said.
He lamented that the coalition government was paying the price for the decisions taken by the PTI government “at the cost of losing its political capital”.
“Niazi sahab, you came to power through stolen elections and you have admitted to it […] we even know the names of people who brought you. But in these four years, instead of rebuilding Pakistan, you destroyed everything.”
Dar recalled that when the incumbent government came to power, it had to choose between the welfare of the state and doing politics.
“It was very easy for us […] when you lost the vote of confidence, people were standing in queues outside Nawaz Sharif’s house in London […] all of them wanted to buy (party) tickets.
“But at that time we chose the country over politics,” he said.
“On the other hand, your motto is completely different. You [Imran] only work for the country when you’re in power, otherwise, no state exists for you,” the minister deplored.
He elaborated that when the PML-N government was ousted in 2018, it left behind a GDP of 6.10 per cent.
“But when you came, you tampered with the numbers and made false claims. You can check the numbers of the economic survey. When you left, Pakistan’s economy recorded an increase of $26 billion, whereas our number was $112bn.”
Dar further said that Imran has claimed double revenue in the span of a year. The minister said that the ex-premier also caused inflation and the country’s debts to soar.
“When you went abroad for conferences on investment, you lied about Pakistan’s debt and said that the country faced corruption. And after saying all this you invited people to invest in the country. How dumb is that?”
Dar further said that Imran claimed that his government reduced the current account deficit, when in fact “he left it at $17.4bn”.
The minister admitted that the current account deficit increased during the PML-N’s tenure but contended that it was due to military operations against terrorism and other economic difficulties.
“But Imran never had any of these problems.”
Talking about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, Dar said that the agreement with the global lender was signed by the PTI government and that the incumbent setup had nothing to do with it.
“But when Imran realised that he was being ousted, he disowned all the agreements and left behind landmines,” he said, adding that Pakistan had only completed one IMF programme in its history that too under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif.
Talking about Imran’s claims of giving 5.5 million jobs, the minister argued that the economic survey from the PTI setup showed that only 3.3m jobs were created.
“So Khan sahab, what have you really done? All this time, you were just busy with politics of persecution and didn’t care about the public.
“In a nutshell, you brought Pakistan’s economy down to the 47th rank. This is the reason why IMF gives us dictation today […] we are fulfilling your sovereign commitments.”
Dar added that if Imran called himself a leader, then he should “behave like one” as well.
Imran fears national security risk due to economic crisis
During the televised address, Imran talked at length about the country’s economic situation. He said that prior to his ouster, he had alerted the “neutrals” that the economy would be affected due to political instability.
He said that economic experts were now foreseeing difficulty for Pakistan in the months to come. He noted that since the new government came into power, the rupee had fallen by Rs84 against the US dollar.
He further said that foreign exchange reserves were at dangerously low levels at $3.6bn. “For the sale of comparison, India’s forex reserves are more than $600bn.”
He said that the former opposition used to claim that the PTI had ruined the economy while inflation was sky high. “Ishaq Dar used to give statements from London that he will do this and that.”
During his tirade against the government, Imran also urged the nation to “never vote for a party whose leadership has stashed money abroad”.
“Why? Because what difference is it making to them? Their money is stashed abroad.”
Imran said that Pakistan’s growth rate was at 4pc during the PTI government’s tenure, which would now be in the negative. He further claimed that the PTI government had created 5.5m jobs and managed Rs6 trillion in tax collection.
He voiced the concern that the economy was headed on a downward spiral, saying that the current rulers had lead it to a point where “national security is at risk”.
“Those who will bailout Pakistan out of this condition […] remember that they will ask for a price. The IMF has asked Egypt and Sri Lanka to reduce their armies […] it can ask us to do the same.”
The former prime minister warned that the depreciating rupee, declining foreign exchange reserves, and skyrocketing inflation would not just affect the people, but also Pakistan’s security.
“Today, every Pakistani is worried about security, except for those who do not have a stake in Pakistan […] and I am the most worried about it,” Imran said, adding that the incumbent government was to blame for these crises.
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