Ready to set aside all differences for Pakistan: Shehbaz

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Offers olive branch to Imran; Confirms Dar met President with his permission

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday offered olive branch to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan saying that he was ready to set aside all differences for the sake of the country.

Addressing a press conference here along with federal ministers, PM Shehbaz said Finance Minister Ishaq Dar recently held a meeting with President Arif Alvi, who belongs to PTI, with his permission.

“One hundred steps can be taken forward for Pakistan. All differences can be set aside,” he said. The prime minister also said the both parties, government and opposition, need to come forward in order to initiate dialogue.

“He [Imran Khan] is very egocentric person who only cares about his personal interests and he can stoop to any level for his vested interests,” the premier, however, remarked.

Speaking about British publication Daily Mail’s apology, PM Shehbaz said that the unconditional apology by the newspaper was a vindication of the 220 million people of Pakistan “which also thwarted an anti-state conspiracy hatched by Imran Khan and his cronies”.

“Finally, after three years, they (Daily Mail) tendered an apology, not just to me but all of you. It was an apology to 220 million Pakistanis and to millions of those mothers and children who were benefiting from DIFD projects to support their food and health,” the prime minister said.

Apprising the media of the allegations levelled by the previous government through the Daily Mail article, the prime minister said the onslaught was only meant to defame him, Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Muslim League-N.

“He (Imran Khan) was so callous that he never thought that it will not only malign Nawaz Sharif or Shehbaz Sharif rather it will damage Pakistan’s reputation,” he remarked. The newspaper also published its apology in Sunday’s print edition, he added.

He told the media that DFID project’s amount of 600 million pounds was spent transparently and the allegations were also contradicted by the DFID itself. “Consequently, the country was mocked and a message was conveyed that Pakistan should not be given aid or grant,” he said.

He said despite the passage of three years, Imran’s accountability czar Shahzad Akbar failed to produce documents to substantiate his allegations which also led to his (Shehbaz Sharif) vindication by the NCA. He said by selling a especially-designed watch containing Holy Kaaba’s picture, gifted by Saudi crown prince, Imran Khan committed the “cheapest act”. The premier also mentioned an article published in the Financial Times alleging Imran Khan of spending donations collected for Shaukat Khanum Hospital on his politics.

The prime minister told the media that the incumbent government inherited a shaken economy and that they had to beseech the IMF which was not ready to trust Pakistan after the previous government deviated from the commitments. He said by passing the burden of the oil price surge to the masses, the incumbent government sacrificed its politics in the state’s interest as the previous government had laid a trap for their government by holding back price hike.

However, PM Shebaz questioned what talks could be held with “an egoistic and liar person who even defames the army”.

“I want to tell the people that this person is a fraud having nothing to do with the nation’s future,” he said. But at the same time, the premier called for setting aside differences for the country’s progress.

He said the previous government “ridiculed” his idea of a Charter of Economy and misconstrued it as a desire to seek a national reconciliation ordinance-type agreement.

PM Shehbaz said the government had disbursed Rs70 billion among the flood-hit families through the Benazir Income Support Programme and spent billions more through the National Disaster Management Authority to supply food packages, tents, and mosquito nets. Besides, Rs400 million were also given in form of compensation for life losses, he added.

Minister of Finance Ishaq Dar on Monday while again categorically ruling out Pakistan’s going bankrupt said that spreading Pakistan’s default narrative is part of campaign.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, he said that Pakistan’s rating in the world is being damaged by talking about default. The minister said that the country should be kept first, adding that the challenges are being managed.

Hitting out at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman, Dar declared Imran Khan responsible for country’s current situation and said that the former PM is now defaming the country by spreading false propaganda of Pakistan’s default. Alleging the previous government of laying land mines, the finance minister said that Imran Khan tried to prove Pakistan as a corrupt nation, adding that the inflation reached historic high during the PTI government’s tenure and the rupee depreciated.

Ishaq Dar said that Pakistan is hoping to conclude talks with Saudi Arabia soon on financial help for the South Asian nation.

Dar also told a news conference that the International Monetary Fund had asked Pakistan for more information to finalise its ninth review.

“We hope that we will soon conclude talks, which we have started with Saudi Arabia,” he said in response to a question whether there was any progress on seeking financial support from Saudi Arabia.