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PTI Government Continues to Blame Previous Governments for Inflation

by Newsweek Pakistan

Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain presents health cards to journalists at Lahore Press Club. Photo courtesy PID

Information minister alleges that four senior PMLN leaders are attempting to oust Nawaz Sharif from party

Despite repeatedly asserting that the rampant inflation in Pakistan is the result of a global economic crunch, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Sunday reiterated the stance that it is actually the “direct fault” of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Addressing media in Lahore, he claimed that the behavior of previous rulers could not be delinked from the current context. “If this government ignores the reason behind inflation, how will it control inflation,” he said, explaining that Pakistan had borrowed Rs. 6 trillion loan from 1947 till 2008, which had jumped to Rs. 23 trillion by 2018. While not elaborating how much debt the incumbent rulers had added—data of the Finance Ministry states it has now hit Rs. 40.9 trillion—he said the PTI-led government had thus far returned $32 billion in loans.

“Those who fled after looting and plundering the national exchequer are now giving lectures on economy today,” he said, and rubbished the impression that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s popularity had declined due to his government’s economic policies. “The PMLN is party of Punjab, PPP is of Sindh and JUI is of some areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he claimed, adding that general elections would prove that the PTI was still the most popular and it would form the next government as well.

The information minister also alleged that four senior leaders—who he did not choose to identify—of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) were looking to oust Nawaz Sharif from the party. “PMLN’s four top leaders met someone and told him that Nawaz Sharif did great wrong to the country [so] why don’t they consider them,” he said, in a statement echoed by Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Special Assistant to the P.M. on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill, suggesting a strategy to sow discord within the PMLN.

Gill, in a separate presser, claimed Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif had “asked for a deal for four people”—Shahbaz, Nawaz, Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shahbaz—to allow them to leave the country.

Fawad, meanwhile, downplayed the threat of the opposition’s planned long marches on Islamabad—the PPP is planning one for February, while the Pakistan Democratic Movement has announced one for March—emphasizing that they had been issuing similar announcements since the PTI first came into power.

Health card

Announcing that the health card scheme was now available for all journalists and their families in Lahore, the minister stressed that including the private sector was essential to resolve the country’s healthcare problems. Claiming private investment into the health sector would lead to better facilities, he claimed 5,669 people in Lahore division had benefited from the program already.

He also lamented that media outlets had not increased salaries of working journalists for several years despite their owners earning 33-40 percent profit this year. He said print media had to shift toward digitization, as digital media was the future. In the past three years, he said, advertisements worth Rs. 12 billion had been shifted from formal media to digital media.

Admitting that inflation was particularly impacting the salaried class, he said the private sector should play its role to resolve these problems. “Prosperity of working journalists is necessary, we have to work for it,” he added.

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