PM Shehbaz Sharif says that taking charge of premier at this critical juncture was not easy
A day after his government increased the price of petroleum products by Rs30, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced that his government will include a Rs28 billion relief package in the upcoming budget to help those who are most affected by the hike.
At the beginning of his address, the premier said that assuming the office of the prime minister at this crucial time was not easy.
"I would like to thank my leader Nawaz Sharif and the leaders of our allied parties for trusting me with this office," he said.
The prime minister said taking up the challenge of coming into power was not easy as the country's situation was gloomy, and the nation was plagued with hatred during the previous government's tenure.
PM Shehbaz said a diplomatic cable was used by his predecessor for political means and lies were told despite the National Security Committee (NSC) and the Pakistani envoy to the United States rubbishing the Imran Khan's claims.
The premier said if the PTI chairman thinks his "ego" is bigger than the state, then it is his misconception as Pakistan will run in line with the Constitution and not on the direction of one person.
Former prime minister Imran Khan has repeatedly blamed the US for backing the no-confidence motion — that lead to his ouster — and has refused to accept the newly-elected government.
He claimed that US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu had threatened Pakistan's ambassador for removing his government.
"This person, when Pakistan was progressing under prime minister Nawaz Sharif, held dharnas. At that time, Chinese President [Xi Jinping] had to come to Pakistan, but due to his arrogance, the agreement that was scheduled to take place was delayed."
The premier stressed that the incumbent is responsible for the people's safety and security and would not compromise in this regard.
Reminding the PTI of their performance in the last government, PM Shehbaz said it was Imran Khan that struck a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), not the current government.
"We did not agree to the strict conditions of the IMF; you made the people bear heavy inflation, not us; you buried the country under heavy loans, not us; international institutions said that corruption increased during your tenure, not us; load shedding was brought back during your tenure and you are responsible for the economy's suffering," he said.
The prime minister said the incumbent government was ready to take tough decisions for moving the country towards progress in a bid to end the politics of "incompetency and corruption".
He added that when the new government came into power, inflation was sky rocketing, industries were closing, and the dollar — which was at Rs115 — had reached Rs189.
The prime minister said the last government, added Rs20,000 billion to the loans of Pakistan — which was more than 80% of the total loans taken during the history of the country.
In contrast, the PML-N government took fewer loans and provided 10,400MW of electricity, roads were made, state-of-the-art public transport system, and several development projects were started.
He said due to the previous government's policies, powerplants that generate 7,500MW of electricity were shut down, and as a result, people were forced to buy expensive power.
Giving details of why the government hiked prices of petroleum products, the prime minister said the rates of petrol and diesel were skyrocketing across the world.
"From oil-producing countries to developed countries, everyone is gripped with economic turmoil. But for political gains, the previous government announced a petrol subsidy for which there was no place in the national exchequer," the premier said.
But keeping aside our political interests, we took the decision to hike petrol prices and save Pakistan from default.
"The decision is the first step towards developing Pakistan."
The prime minister said the government was about to start a Rs28 billion relief package for the lower-income segment of the country after hiking the price of petrol by Rs30.
The premier said the government was immediately announcing Rs2,000 for around 85 million people — and this is aside from the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) monetary assistance that they already get.
"This relief package will be included in the next fiscal budget," the premier said.
He added that he has directed the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) to provide 10kg wheat to people for Rs400.