Govt steered country out of multiple crisis in 16 months: PM Shehbaz

Shehbaz says we came to power constitutionally and now going back with satisfaction of conscience and heart

Calls for rekindling spirit of Independence Movement, lessons of unity, self belief.

ISLAMABAD   -  Outgoing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said his government steered the country out of severe economic and political crisis and external challenges and protected the interests of the people and the Pakistani state during their 16-month government.

Addressing the nation yesterday, he said time and history would be witness that his government saved Pakistan from default and the subsequent economic disaster waiting to happen, safeguarded national interests, restored the trust of friendly countries and provided relief to people after the devastating floods.

Shehbaz said after the end of the constitutional tenure of his government, he was handing over power to the caretaker government constitutionally. “My conscience is clear that I served honestly and transparently and followed the Constitution.”

He congratulated Anwarul Haq Kakar for becoming the caretaker prime minister and expressed the hope that he would ensure free, fair and transparent elections in Pakistan and protect the right to vote of the people. “The caretaker prime minister is appointed after consultation between him and leader of the opposition Raja Riaz.”

He thanked the political leadership and people for reposing trust in his leadership and government.

Apparently referring to the ouster of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government through a parliamentary no-confidence vote last year, the premier said: “We came to power through constitutional way and leaving [the government] in a constitutional way.”

The premier, who is also president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said he is “going back with the satisfaction of conscience and heart” and handing over the power to the caretaker government. The PDM alliance and the PPP formed a coalition government in April last year after toppling Imran Khan-led government through a no-trust motion.

The outgoing rulers had accused the PTI-led government of destroying the country’s economy and compromising on national interests by violating an agreement with International Monetary Fund (IMF) for political gains.

In a significant development likely to alleviate the country’s economic woes in the upcoming months, the Washington-based lender is likely to work with a prolonged caretaker setup in the country to complete its ongoing $3 billion Standby Arrangement (SBA) programme.

“At that time, if we had gone into immediate elections, we would have a political advantage,” the prime minister said in his today’s address while referring to the ouster of the PTI-led regime. “[…] but we prioritised national interests over political gains.” Referring to the “tough decisions” including increasing fuel prices, electricity tariffs and others, PM Shehbaz said the PDM alliance took decisions to save the state and the country from default.

While acknowledging that inflation increased significantly during his rule, the PM said the shortage of essential commodities could have led to riots and chaos, had the country gone bankrupt.

Premier Shehbaz said the enemies of the country wanted to see “terrible scenes” in the motherland but their all conspiracies were foiled. “Selfish people loved only their own political gains.” He highlighted the performance of the coalition government during its 16-month rule.

He said his government distributed Rs100 billion in the form of cash and goods among over 300 million flood victims last year. “Free flour worth Rs70 billion distributed to millions of Pakistanis in Ramazan.” The PM said the salaries and pensions of government employees were increased in the last federal budget and utility stores ensured the availability of items at subsidised rates across the country. Moreover, the PM said he distributed free laptops among millions of students across the country. He gave laptops to hundreds of thousands of students and pledged that the Danish schools’ network will be expanded in all parts of the country if his party came to power again.

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