LAHORE: PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday warned that the IMF agreement would only provide a temporary relief because it will eventually lead the country to even a major disaster as the burden of loans would continue increasing.
While lashing out at the economic policies of the “imported government” and its “handlers”, he asked the rulers: “Do not destroy the country just to oust Imran Khan from the political arena.”
In a televised address from his Zaman Park residence, he termed the IMF deal as “treatment of cancer with disprin (aspirin)”.
Pakistan is plunging into financial crisis and more chaos like Sri Lanka, he said. Cautioning that the situation would deteriorate, Mr Khan cited the latest report of Fitch Ratings agency which has downgraded Pakistan’s long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating to ‘CCC-’, meaning the country has already reached the level of Sri Lanka.
He said the PDM government had tried to shift the burden of bringing more inflation to the shoulders of President Dr Arif Alvi by asking for an ordinance to approve the mini-budget.
“Even the PDM government is reluctant to get approval of the mini-budget from its own members in the parliament,” he claimed.
The PTI chairman said the mini-budget would bring another wave of inflation and the salaried class as well as housewives would be feeling the pinch as their purchasing power would drastically reduce. He explained how prices of daily use items, including meat, vegetables, pulses, fuel and other goods, particularly construction material, had increased.
He accused the PDM government and its “handlers” of plunging the country into a plethora of crises and asked the nation that it is now left with only two options — either sit idle and wait for the imminent disaster or become part of his party’s peaceful protest and ensure that rule of law is upheld and general elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are held within the constitutional time frame of 90 days.
The former premier said he did not expect the PDM government to uphold the rule of law and follow the Constitution to hold elections in Punjab and KP within the 90 days of the dissolution of assemblies in the two provinces.
Mr Khan said he could have asked the country’s “largest” political party — PTI — to organise protests, hold strikes and block the country, but he rather decided that it would adopt the peaceful way of jail bharo tehreek to tell the handlers of the incumbent federal government that the nation should not be punished for the vested interests of a few people.
He said the chief election commissioner through his “partial” actions would never be able to get public mandate for the looters of national wealth.
“People have decided that they will throw out the corrupt cabal of looters in the next elections and that’s why they are afraid of holding the elections,” Mr Khan claimed.
The ex-PM said he could see the country was heading towards default and added that the expected IMF agreement would only provide a temporary relief because it will eventually lead Pakistan to even a major disaster as the burden of loans would continue increasing.
Mr Khan asserted that the only way to steer the country out of the quagmire was to hold free and fair general elections and let the public-mandated government take “tough decisions”.
“Only a government, backed by the people of Pakistan, can introduce structural reforms to remove the cancer and put the country on the path to recovery,” he said. To achieve this objective, he added, the PTI got its two provincial governments dissolved.
The “incompetent” and “corrupt” rulers have no solution for the welfare of public and they are only focusing on getting their corruption cases closed and lodging FIRs against him (Imran), he said, adding that they only want to arrest and torture PTI leaders and workers to break the PTI and eventually win elections.
“The people of Pakistan will not let this happen,” he asserted.
He lamented that the PDM government was only busy getting rid of their corruption cases worth Rs1,100 billion and forcing the 220 million people of Pakistan to face the unprecedented inflation.
Mr Khan pointed out that the country’s income from exports, remittances and other sources had been slashed leading to low GDP growth and per capita income in line with the rupee devaluation against the dollar.
Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2023