Lashing out at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government for leaving the country on the verge of default, Foreign Minister and Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Sunday said that Imran Khan was the first prime minister who launched a “suicide attack on the economy,” he said.
The minister made the remarks while addressing the closing ceremony of the Asma Jahangir Conference in Lahore.
Bilawal said that there have been many ups and downs in Pakistan’s political history but whenever political institutions progressed, “we should appreciate it”, adding that Imran’s ouster was an “achievement for all political forces”.
“This is the only legitimate way for a prime minister’s ouster. He attained the [prime minister’s] chair undemocratically but we removed him democratically,” the PPP leader added.
He said that in the past, Pakistan’s prime ministers were either targeted by terrorism or were shown the door by courts. “We should not knock the gate number 4 for a change or seek court’s intervention,” he said.
Bilawal said that when Imran Khan left the government, the country was facing many problems. “He was the first prime minister in history who launched a suicide attack on his own country’s economy. We were heading towards default and he was playing Russian roulette with the economy,” he added.
He said that all parties from the Pakistan Democratic Movement paid the political cost to save the country from default.
The PPP chairman further said that after saving the country from default, it got into another big test in the shape of floods. “This country had not seen such catastrophe. All provinces were badly affected by these floods. Even today, in Sindh and Balochistan many areas are inundated,” he added.
He said that 33 million people were affected by the devastating floods. “That is one in seven Pakistanis. One-third of the country’s landmass was affected. That is more than the land mass of the UK. The population affected is more than the population of Australia and New Zealand,” he added.
Bilawal regretted that despite the huge devastation, floods and rehabilitation are still not the prime focus of the politicians and media. “Our focus is still on political fights in Islamabad.”
He added: “We’re not at fault for the devastation we’re facing today. Pakistan contributes 0.8% to carbon footprint yet it is the eighth most affected. The cost of industrialisation of developed countries … the people of Pakistan are paying for that. We demand justice from the world.”
He said that rehabilitating 33 million people is no small challenge for any country but expressed hope that Pakistan will make an example for the world.
“We will construct all houses that were destroyed. We will repair our irrigation system. We must be on the same page with climate strategy. With consensus, it can be done. Our political issues can continue but we must not forget the flood-affected people,” he added.
He said that Pakistan’s crops are destroyed and the economy is facing further pressure. “We’re facing one hurdle after another. If it were in any other country, this would have been their only issue to discuss.”
Bilawal said that “we will continue to defend the democratic process in Pakistan”. “We must stop our youth from extremism. We’re also seeing political extremism in India, Europe and the US too. We look towards the youth to side with prosperity and will reject extremism,” he further said.
In his speech, FM Bilawal also criticised Imran for his governance, saying that the PTI chief deliberately endangered the economy on his way out. Imran thought that if he endangered the economy, the people would blame his successor, he said, adding that the country was in danger of defaulting.
“To play with the health of a country’s economy, to play Russian roulette with the country’s economy […] was an injustice with the people of Pakistan.”