- PTI should prioritise its many issues
Nawaz Sharif’s exit from the country on the orders of the Lahore High Court on medical grounds was not an easily digestible proposition for Prime Minister Imran Khan who had championed the PML(N) leader’s disqualification after the Panama Papers leaks, his sentencing and making his subsequent incarceration as uncomfortable as possible. Although it was Mr Khan’s own trustworthy team that provided all the evidence proving Mr Sharif’s ‘critical condition’, as soon as he was seen boarding his air ambulance to fly to London on his own two feet, the PTI began questioning the severity of his condition. A picture has now emerged where Mr Sharif can be seen at a London eatery with his family, which has the PTI riled up, adding to its suspicions. The Sharif camp in London has provided the justification that the outing was on “doctor’s orders”. The Punjab government, that has to decide on an extension in time to Mr Sharif for him continue treatment abroad, is now seeking latest reports from his personal physician. While the PTI government is fixated on how ill Mr Sharif really is, other pressing matters requiring its immediate attention are being ignored.
There is continuous pressure on the government from the business community to provide some relief. A delegation from the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) put forth its demands to the PM asking for a cut in interest rates, reduction in energy prices and withdrawal for the CNIC requirement for purchases of over Rs50,000. Short of this, they claimed, more industrial units would shut down. This is near impossible, as the State Bank of Pakistan has said monetary policy tightening has to continue, the IMF will not allow any reduction in energy tariffs and a failure to meet tax revenue targets means the CNIC condition will remain intact. There are crises on almost all borders starting with India threatening LoC aggression, instability in Afghanistan as US-Taliban talks continue amid regular attacks and the dangerously escalating tensions between the US and Iran. Internal security problems also persist with an uptick in terrorist attacks in Quetta.
The PTI government should prioritise the many issues it faces. It is well within its rights to seek updates on Mr Sharif’s health. It can additionally send a team from the London embassy to make its own investigations. But the Sharif obsession should not divert its attention from more crucial issues that it is failing to address effectively.