LAHORE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday that Pakistan direly needs a grand dialogue, underscoring "we should think above ourselves and our personal likes and dislikes" and accord top priority to the progress and prosperity of the nation. Hours later, the PTI strongly turned down the proposal saying the main beneficiary of the grand dialogue will not be health, economy and education but 'Maqsood chaprasi'.
While addressing the inauguration ceremony of Indus Hospital, Lahore, the prime minister said: "We will have to hold a grand dialogue with all stakeholders of the country if we have to lead Pakistan ahead. We have to kill our ego and stubbornness for Pakistan to progress."
Shehbaz said that the purpose of the grand dialogue was to make no compromise over education, health and industries. "Any change in the government shouldn’t matter and no one can touch these areas so that the country keeps going ahead," the premier said. He opined that there were certain sectors of the economy like IT and industrialisation through which the country could move ahead.
PM Shehbaz Sharif inaugurated the first phase of the 600-bed Indus Hospital earlier in the day. The hospital located in Lahore's Jubilee Town will provide free-of-cost medical treatment to the poor and deserving following international standards.
PM Shehbaz Sharif said: "People launching such projects for the poor are earning the blessings of this world and the hereafter. Nations were not formed on the basis of the construction of magnificent buildings, but hard work, integrity and sacrifices coupled with the use of latest knowledge and technology always evolved them."
Recalling the establishment and completion of the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI) project with an investment of Rs20 billion in the previous government of the PML-N, PM Shehbaz Sharif decried that the PKLI Chairman Dr Saeed Akhtar was disrespected and pushed out of the hospital when the government changed. He said that a world-class hospital for liver and kidney transplants with staff members and doctors who came to Pakistan from the US and Europe to serve the humanity in Pakistan fell prey to politics. The prime minister went on to say that the welfare work by good people shouldn't be politicised regardless of the government they are working with. "How long will a country running on loans survive?” he asked, regretting that Pakistan should have been in the forefront of the Islamic world in terms of progress and development.
Comparing Pakistan’s export volume with Bangladesh, the prime minister said its annual exports now touched $40 billion mark while Pakistan had an export value of $27-28 billion annually. The prime minister referring to the global economic meltdown said that the government had increased the petroleum prices with a heavy heart. He also termed the previous government’s decision of decreasing the petroleum prices in the month of March as a ploy as it had not extended any kind of relief to the masses during their rule. The prime minister further assured that the incumbent government would try its best to provide relief to the poor and said that the government was looking to ease out impacts of price hike by extending financial relief to over 70 million population.
About loadshedding, the prime minister said that he had chaired an emergency meeting and directed for a mechanism to decrease its duration. There should be no more than two hours of loadshedding, he added.
He also hinted at further austerity measures shortly in the face of economic challenges. The PM further stated that he was ready to be held accountable for his two and a half months rule but asked if the previous rulers who had governed the country in the last three and a half years would do the same. He expressed the optimism that with unity and hard work, the country would rise to the horizon and no one would be able to match its speed.
Hours later, the PTI rejected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s offer of holding a "grand dialogue" between all stakeholders of the country. PTI’s Central Information Secretary Farrukh Habib, in a video statement, said that the idea of a grand dialogue has been offered by the incumbent government to hide its failures as well as inflation that has hit the country in the first 50 days of it coming into power.
“Those who served as a curse to the poor people, have laid the foundation of political and economic chaos in the country,” said Habib, adding that the incumbent government was making “hilarious claims" of fixing the economy by increasing oil, electricity, and gas prices by 40-45pc. “The main beneficiary of their grand dialogue will not be health, economy and education but Maqsood chaprasi,” alleged the PTI leader.