Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has said that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif wanted to appoint a new army chief of his ‘liking’ to disqualify him and reverse decisions of the case in which he was sentenced to imprisonment.
While addressing the participants of the PTI’s “Haqeeqi Azadi March” simultaneously in Sarai Alamgir, Chiniot, and Swabi via video link from Lahore on Tuesday, the former prime minister questioned how a convict (referring to Nawaz) could make decisions on sensitive matters about Pakistan’s national security.
“He [Nawaz] wants the new army chief to disqualify me from national politics,” Imran added.
He castigated the incumbent government for consulting Nawaz over the appointment of the new chief of army staff (COAS).
He claimed that Nawaz was not capable of making decisions on merit, as the PML-N chief always gave “preference to his personal interests over those of the country”.
The PTI chairman maintained that only early elections could avert the country’s looming “economic collapse”.
He warned that Pakistan was heading towards a default, pointing out that the risk of that happening had increased to 64.5%.
“The question is who is responsible for this economic meltdown,” the former prime minister said while addressing a rally.
The PTI chief was referring to Pakistan’s risk of default, measured through the five-year currency default swap (CDS) index, which had spiked by 4.2% to a new high of 64.5%.
“When our government was removed through a regime change conspiracy in April [this year], the risk of Pakistan taking loans from abroad was less than 5% and today it has climbed to 64.5%,” the PTI chief noted.
“This means that our country lacks the resources to meet the growing import payments and foreign debt repayments on time,” he added.
Interestingly, the PTI chief did not mention the impact of the recent devastating floods in various parts of the country.
He said the new figures suggested that there was a high chance that Pakistan would not be able to repay its debts. “[This] indicates that the present government has destabilised the economy,” he claimed.
“In this gloomy environment, foreign investors will shy away from investing in Pakistan and no one will be prepared to give us more loans,” he added.
He blamed the Sharif and Zardari families for the “massive” loans taken during their tenures.
However, the country’s total debt and liabilities jumped to Rs53.5 trillion – an addition of Rs23.7 trillion under the government of Imran, who failed to meet his promise of bringing down by half the debt pile left behind his arch-rival — the PML-N.
The increase in public debt alone, which is the direct responsibility of the government, was Rs19.5 trillion, as it swelled to Rs44.4 trillion by March 2022.
At the rally, the PTI chief feared that the rupee would further devalue if the country hit a default, adding to the woes of the people. “They [the people] are already facing unprecedented inflation that has climbed to 27% from 16% at the time when we left the government,” he added.
Imran castigated the current government for “murdering” Pakistan’s economy in the last seven months.
He asked the “handlers” of the incumbent government about who was responsible for the economic meltdown in the country.
The PTI chief reiterated that when his party was ousted from power, the country’s economy was growing and as per the Economic Survey (2021-22) published by the current government, all the sectors were showing “huge growth”.
“When Pakistan was progressing on all economic fronts, then what was the logic behind removing our government?’ he questioned.
He claimed that six months back, he had warned the “handlers” that the conspiracy to bring the PML-N into power would prove detrimental for the company.
He maintained that if Pakistan defaulted on its loans, it would not affect Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his company.
“Only national security will be compromised,” he added.
“If the people still think that the present government can solve the economic issues then I ask them who brought Pakistan to this stage in the first place,” he said.
“The only solution to the economic crisis in the country is free and fair elections,” he claimed, without elaborating about his claim.
Imran again alleged that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was working on an agenda against his party.
“Not only is it [ECP) close to the PML-N, but also its handlers,” he added.
He claimed that Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja had passed decisions against his party eight times and all of them were rejected by the judiciary.
The PTI chief termed the lack of justice as the root cause of all the country’s ills. He urged Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial to deliver justice.
Imran underscored that real independence came through the rule of law and justice. “All issues in Pakistan are linked to the justice system in the country. The law of jungle has turned the people into slaves,” he maintained.
“I once again humbly request you [CJP] that these three cases — the assassination of renowned journalist Arshad Sharif, the custodial torture of Senator Azam Swati, and the registration of the FIR of the Wazirabad attack are of landmark significance,” he said.
“Mr chief justice, we are looking towards you because we do not have hope from anywhere else. It is high time that the courts became assertive and stood with the people of Pakistan,” he added.