• PML-N supremo says Imran’s sponsors equally responsible for economic mess
• Calls for political stability, long-term policy to rake in investments
NAROWAL: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday touted the policy and economic achievements during the tenure of PML-N and said the decision to impose PTI chief Imran Khan on the country stopped the wheel of progress.
Addressing a ceremony at the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the PML-N supreme leader said political stability and long-term policies were necessary to boost the confidence of investors and uplift the economy. The ex-premier claimed that had the momentum of the 1990s continued, Pakistan’s exports would have crossed more than $300 billion.
Nawaz Sharif aired his grievances against those who ousted him from power in 2017 and said such a person was brought to succeed him as the prime minister who caused damage to the economy. “Those who brought him [Imran Khan] are equally responsible [for the current state of the country],” he added.
Mr Sharif claimed that in the 2018 elections, his party had won despite the failure of the RTS system, but election results were delayed for several hours to tamper with votes. He added that even then the PML-N emerged as the largest political party in Punjab Assembly but it was not allowed to form its government and “people were brought in private planes” to form the PTI government.
In the National Assembly, he said Imran Khan “became the prime minister with [a majority of] four votes” which included the votes polled in his favour by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Balochistan Awami Party.
He also complained about how a country could develop if its prime ministers were being sent to jail, in exile, or to the gallows. “I was the prime minister of Pakistan in the morning and became a plane hijacker in the evening,” he said referring to the 1999 coup against his government.
Speaking to a workers’ convention in Sialkot, he said the PML-N government was ousted from power “without any reason…we were punished”.
The decision cost the country dearly, he said, claiming that during the PML-N government, the inflation rate was low, loadshedding and terrorism had been eliminated, and the country was rapidly developing. The Stock Exchange of Pakistan had joined the ranks of the best-performing stock markets, he said.
He said PML-N was working to develop every sector, including agriculture. “We were giving relief to farmers for the promotion of agriculture…there was an effort to develop agriculture alongside trade,” he said, adding that the party would focus on economy if elected to power.
However, he lamented, “all of a sudden, everything was ruined…a developing country was destroyed”.
According to Nawaz Sharif, the representative of millions of people was plucked out by some judges from power. He said his party leaders were put in jail, and even his daughter Maryam Nawaz, who did not hold a public office, remained in the custody of the NAB as well as in jail.
In a reference to the sit-in staged by the PTI, he said in spite of protests, the PML-N government continued working and managed to fulfil its goals. He also blamed Imran Khan for corrupting the moral fabric of society in addition to its economic health.
About inflation, he said a person earning Rs50,000 a month was having a hard time, and even those with Rs100,000 income find it difficult to make ends meet.
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2023