Wednesday June 12, 2024

Govt retiring constitutionally after saving ‘sinking ship of economy’: PM

Outgoing premier discusses PDM-led govt's 16-month performance, economic challenges

By Web Desk
August 13, 2023

Outgoing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is addressing the nation in this still taken from a video on August 13, 2023. — YouTube/GeoNews
Outgoing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is addressing the nation in this still taken from a video on August 13, 2023. — YouTube/GeoNews

Outgoing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday said that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government is handing over power in a constitutional way after “successfully rescuing the sinking boat of the economy”.

He said this while addressing the nation on the eve of likely handover of power to caretaker Prime Minister-designate Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, who is likely to take the oath of office tomorrow (Monday).

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.

His statement comes as caretaker PM-designate Kakar, who was nominated by PM Shehbaz and Leader of Opposition Raja Riaz, is expected to take the oath of his office tomorrow.

Speaking about the PDM’s 16-month rule, the premier said he protected the national interests and rescued the sinking economy by bringing the country back to its peaceful shores”.

The PDM alliance and the Pakistan Peoples Party (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.”

PDM performance

In the same address, the prime minister 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 Ramadan.”

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 the

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.