ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday presented a dismal picture of the country’s economy and regretted that friendly countries had started looking at Pakistan as a country that was always asking for money.
“Today, when we go to any friendly country or make a phone call, they think that we have come [to them] to beg for money,” the prime minister regretted while addressing a lawyers’ convention.
PM Sharif said the country’s economy was already facing a ‘challenging situation’ before the floods, which had made it more ‘complicated’. He said Pakistan was on the verge of ‘economic default’ when he assumed power in April, and the coalition government, through its hard work, had saved the country from default and “to some extent controlled the economic instability”.
Admitting that inflation was ‘at its peak’, the premier indirectly blamed the previous Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government for this phenomenon. He alleged that the previous rulers had violated the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), compelling the incumbent government to agree on tough conditions. The IMF had even threatened withdrawal of its programme if the agreed conditions were not met, he added.
Mr Sharif said even smaller economies had surpassed Pakistan, “and we have been wandering for the past 75 years carrying a begging bowl”. There were countries in the region whose GDP was lower than Pakistan’s growth, but currently they were far ahead in terms of export, he told lawyers.
“Where does Pakistan stand today after 75 years? This is a pinching question … We are moving in a circle all the time,” said PM Shehbaz, while declaring that they were in a ‘now or never’ situation. He said the country had the potential but ‘there is a lack of will to do’.
The prime minister warned of a possible gas crisis in the coming winter, stating that he had been struggling to arrange gas before the advent of winter season. He said the rains and floods had played unprecedented havoc in the country, adding that such climate-induced catastrophe had perhaps not been witnessed anywhere in the world.
Earlier, he distributed allotment letters among senior lawyers for residential plots in the housing project and carried out balloting of plots for federal government employees.
Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2022