A split in the ranks of the ruling PML-N seems to be widening as another party leader Hanif Abbasi has joined the anti-Miftah camp, blaming the finance minister for “neutralising the efforts” of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to uplift the country’s economy.

Hanif Abbasi has emerged as another critic of his own government after Abid Sher Ali.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Friday with the traders’ leaders, Abbasi said the prime minister was making all-out efforts but the finance ministry was neutralising them.

Urging the finance ministry to stop looting the people, he said new taxes were being imposed on the taxpayers.

Continuing his tirade, the PML-N leader said about 11 taxes had been imposed on the industrial sector bills due to which the workers might leave the industry. “My own driver got an electricity bill of Rs16,000,” he added.

Abbasi said every sector had been affected by the electricity bills. Instead of taking decisions through the committees, there was a dire need to take immediate decisions.

Taking a swipe at the finance ministry, he said the country’s economy could not be maintained through looting. 

The PML-N leader claimed a woman in charge of the finance ministry was scaring people, adding that the finance ministry should resolve the issues instead of scaring people.

In view of the floods, the former MNA urged the political parties to suspend their political activities for six months. Taking a dig at the PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Hanif said he [Imran] liked to collect funds for himself.

ABID SHER ALI: Earlier on Thursday, Abid Sher Ali lashed out at Finance Minister Miftah for increasing the power tariffs, “adding to the miseries of the common man.”

Addressing a news conference alongside fellow party leader Talal Chaudhry, he pointed out that while PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister, the country was under deep crises.

“But still he had not allowed the electricity tariffs to increase,” Abid added.

“Nawaz Sharif never compromised on the issues of the masses. He never threw electricity bombs at them,” he maintained.

The PML-N leader claimed that there was pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) even then, but they were dealt with.

“When I hear Miftah Ismail sahib today, I feel sad when he says that increasing prices is okay. It is not okay. When people who earn Rs20,000 have to pay bills of Rs30,000, they hate you,” he claimed.

“Miftah sahib, leave your office once and meet the people. You will understand what they are passing through. This not PML-N’s ideology,” Abid added.

He conceded that it was important to clean up the “mess” left behind by PTI chairman and deposed premier Imran Khan. However, he added that this was not the way to do it.

He proposed renegotiating the agreement Imran had reached with the IMF.

Speaking about the hike in petroleum prices, the PML-N leader maintained that his party had never allowed the fuel prices to increase during its tenure, adding that it always made slabs.

He wanted the inflated power bills to be withdrawn. “I have appealed to Mian Nawaz Sharif to intervene and have it reversed.”

Abid also urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to chalk out people-friendly policies aimed at providing relief to the people.

He called for the government to “shun the IMF agenda and help inflation-hit people”.

Ali noted that the government was becoming unpopular among the people while trying to steer the country out of its crises.

“Mr prime minister, you have always delivered in Punjab and your sympathies should reflect in your steps, otherwise we will not be able to visit constituencies,” he added.

He further said the country should not be pushed towards a civil war.

The PML-N leader also criticised Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir and said he should visit the offices of the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) to see how women were standing in lines there.

Around a week ago, Miftah had announced that the petroleum levy would be further jacked up from next month.

He also refused to change the course of economic policies that pulled the country back from the brink of default.

“Should we start repeating mistakes and picking fights with the IMF particularly when the economy has shown signs of stability?” a defiant finance minister had questioned while addressing a news conference.

A journalist had asked him about a tweet by PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz where she claimed: “Mian Sahib strongly opposed the decision and said he could not add burden of even a penny on the people and if the government had any compulsion he was not part of the decision and left the meeting”.

The minister had replied that the ex-PM was part of the meeting that deliberated on the petrol rate.

However, he had added that it would not be “appropriate” for him to comment any further on the issue.

PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Zardari had also disagreed with the decision.

“The PPP is a part of the federal government and supports it. It should consult us on such important decisions,” he said in a statement.

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