–Abbasi says party will launch mass contact campaign against inflation, unemployment
–Maryam Nawaz denies differences between Sharif brothers, says Shehbaz shares Nawaz’s narrative
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Monday announced to launch a countrywide mass contact campaign after Eidul Fitr against rampant inflation and unemployment.
Addressing reporters after a party meeting at the Parliament House, former prime minister and PML-N Senior Vice President Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the country’s economy would not have come to this point had the incumbent leadership kept their mouths shut.
“Even today, I offer the same advice. If they cannot speak the truth, then they should not lie either,” Abbasi said.
The former premier said that there were a lot of suspicions regarding the conditions that the government had agreed to with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), demanding that the government disclose the conditions set by the Fund for the $6 billion financial bailout package in parliament.
Abbasi said that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) had raised the policy interest rate by 1.5 per cent all of a sudden which would have an adverse effect on the business community and will also lead to an increase in unemployment.
“In any country, if the rate increases even by 0.1pc, it becomes part of a public debate […] whereas here, the budget has not been announced, the deal with the IMF has not even been signed yet and the State Bank increased the policy interest rate by 1.5pc,” he said.
Abbasi announced that the PML-N had decided to propose an “alternative economic strategy” in order to protect the country from “this government’s anti-public policies”.
“The party will also put forward a set of demands that should be included in the budget,” Abbasi said.
According to him, the demands include increasing the minimum wage to Rs20,000 in view of rising inflation; reverting the tariffs of power and gas to that of May 31, 2018 as the increase in prices is not justified; reverting the prices of urea and diammonium phosphate (DAP) to that of May 31, 2018; bringing down the prices of petrol and diesel “to a level where they are tolerable”; refrain from introducing new taxes and increasing the current tax rates in the upcoming budget.
Abbasi denied that the party was planning to protest against the government and said: “This is a fallen government. We don’t mean to overthrow it, our real aim [is to solve] public’s problems.”
The meeting was held in the opposition leader’s chamber and was attended by PML-N parliamentarians and the party’s central, provincial and district leadership.
Maryam Nawaz, one of PML-N’s vice presidents, also attended the meeting. This is the first party meeting that she has attended since being appointed as one of the party’s vice presidents.
‘NO DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SHARIF BROTHERS’:
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Maryam denied that there were differences within the Sharif brothers, saying that Shehbaz Sharif considers Nawaz Sharif as his leader and shared the latter’s narrative.
“Shehbaz Sharif recognises Nawaz Sharif as his leader… Maybe his way of expressing [the narrative] is different,” she said and added that the narrative of the party was the same which was “vote ko izzat do” (respect the vote).
In response to a question regarding PML-N’s weak role in the opposition, she hinted that the party will play a stronger role in the parliament from now on.
She also criticised the National Accountability Bureau, declaring that the anti-corruption watchdog was had “no credibility”.
The meeting comes a day after Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari hosted an “informal get together” over iftar for opposition party leaders, which general secretary Farhatullah Babar described as an opportunity for the young chairman to establish a rapport with other lawmakers.
The parties, after the dinner, announced their plans to “launch protests inside and outside the parliament after Eidul Fitr” and hold an All Parties Conference (APC) to “chalk out a joint strategy on how to tackle the problems facing Pakistan”.