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September 9, 2018

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PML-N govt gave CPEC, PTI hiked prices: Shahbaz

LAHORE: The PML-N president, Shahbaz Sharif, on Saturday said the opposition alliance would not allow any business of the government in the Parliament unless a parliamentary commission to investigate the election rigging and engineering of the results was formed and it presents a non-partisan report.

He said the PML-N gave multibillion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to the country as a gift, but the PTI is giving alarming price hike to the people in the first few week of its government. Addressing a press conference at the party’s Model Town secretariat where he was flanked by Marriyum Aurangzeb, Ahsan Iqbal and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Shahbaz said Imran Khan’s premiership is the product of rigged elections and he has somehow forgotten that he is the most disputed prime minister in the democratic history of the country. He said Imran promised him in person after becoming the prime minister that he would constitute the commission and ensure that all concerns of the political parties are addressed; however, 20 days into the government, there is no sign of that commission. Shahbaz said he hoped that Imran would not take another of his infamous U-turns over the issue, “because if he does, the opposition alliance reserves the right to a political and legal recourse”.

Quoting Imran asking for a thorough probe into the Lahore and Multan Metro projects, the PML-N president, said the PML-N government saved billions of rupees in public money in development projects and there is not a penny of corruption in these ventures. “It would have seemed an honest effort at establishing accountability of public money and not political victimisation, if Mr Khan had included the name of Peshawar Metro in these investigations as well, especially when the Peshawar High Court had pointed out that a blacklisted company was given contract of the project and the government's incompetence had cost tens of billions to the exchequer,” he noted.

Shahbaz said although it has only been 20 days of the PTI government, but he is obligated to hold the press conference because of the massive burden imposed on the people in the form of 46 per cent increase in the gas tariff, Rs 5 per unit increase in the electricity tariff and the rise in the price of fertilizer. This, he said, would hit the domestic consumer in two ways – increase in their utility bills and the hike of consumer products exponentially as well by causing severe inflation. The government had promised the people a new and better Pakistan, but in its very first month it has made the life unimaginably difficult for the middle and the poor classes of the country, Shahbaz remarked. He pointed out that on one hand, the PTI government has jacked up the electricity price and on the other power outages have started torturing the people again. Six to eight hours of loadshedding in urban and 10 to 12 hours in the rural areas is being currently undertaken, he added. He said the PML-N government, under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, has virtually eliminated the loadshedding and it is the current government’s responsibility to keep it that way.

Shahbaz also severely criticised the government’s actions and diplomatic posturing vis-a-vis Pak-China relationship. He questioned the rationale behind the information minister receiving the Saudi foreign minister and not the Chinese foreign minister. The foreign minister should have welcomed his counterpart, he stressed. The PML-N president said China is the biggest supporter of Pakistan at all fronts be it economic, strategic, the UN, crisis management, regional support or any other domain, China has stuck with Pakistan. “What exactly is the purpose behind this diplomatic snub to our most important and trusted ally?” questioned Shahbaz. Shahbaz also pointed out that Imran has not once mentioned CPEC, which is a huge gift by the Chinese to the Pakistani people and which would not only bolster the economy but also create tens of thousands of jobs and result in technology transfer to Pakistan.

He appreciated Imran’s concern over lack of water management through hydel projects, but expressed concern that he tried to present as if the PML-N government had not done anything about it. “The PML-N government spent over Rs 122 billion on the land procurement for the Basha Dam and got its feasibility study done as well, therefore to portray that the PML-N government and its leader Nawaz Sharif is insensitive to this issue is plain wrong,” he said. Shahbaz added the only component which needed raising money is the building of the reservoir, because the rest would be invested by the investors who would build the power generation infrastructure.

The PML-N president said he and his party always respected and lauded the army as an institution and it is just certain individuals and their actions that the party has an issue with. Shahbaz said the PML-N will not allow the government to slash the development budget as that would stop the country’s progress and public welfare. He said the PML-N government increased the development budget from Rs 300 billion to Rs 1,000 billion, whereas the PTI is going to slash it by Rs 150 billion which won’t be allowed at any cost.

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