Saturday Aug 13, 2022
ISLAMABAD: On the eve of August 14, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif told the nation that there is no concept of a nation's independence without economic self-reliance.
In a televised address to the nation on Saturday, the prime minister reiterated his call for the formation of a "charter of economy", saying that time has come for Pakistan to head in the right direction.
"We should keep national interest above personal interest [...] as real political leadership does not look towards the next elections, but at the future of the next generation," he said.
"Most importantly, we will need to revive the passion that led to the creation of Pakistan," he said, noting that this passion will lead to the establishment of a great nation.
The prime minister said that the government has banned unimportant imports which resulted in the local currency's recovery against the US dollar.
He added that the government has decided to start solar projects instead of importing oil and gas. This will provide the nation with cheap electricity, he added.
The prime minister's call for economic stability comes as the cash-strapped nation desperately seeks financial assistance from friendly countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The country's foreign reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan were recorded at $7,830.3 million, down $555 million compared with $8,385.4 on July 29, data released by the SBP on Thursday showed, which can cover fewer than 1.12 months of imports.
Shehbaz Sharif-led government came into power in April after the ouster of PTI Chairman Imran Khan — and since then, the incumbent rulers have been trying to stabilise the economy.
Without naming his party's arch-rival PTI, PM Shehbaz said that the nation is facing a crisis of anger and hatred spread in an attempt to divide the nation.
Economic dependence has become Pakistan's identity, which our elders never would've thought.
"As a prime minister, this has been my harshest experience," he added.
PM Shehbaz said that the government has worked day and night to lead the country out of this crisis and prevented Pakistan from getting default.
"The previous government took the highest debt of Rs43 billion dollars in the history of Pakistan which forced the incumbent government to take loans from friendly countries," he said while questioning Imran Khan's "haqiqi azadi". He shared that the payment of interest on the loans taken by the government has also become impossible.
"Can I ask on whose behest did the previous government halt the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, causing irreparable damage to the country's economy," asked the PM.
"Our [PML-N] government left the country self-sufficient in wheat, but the previous government's negligence led to the import of wheat," highlighted the premier. "The previous government did not sign any Liquefied natural gas (LNG) contract for the long term when it was cheap. This negligence has caused people to suffer from loadshedding."
At the outset of his address, the prime minister congratulated the nation on completing 75 years as an independent nation.
He said that the people celebrate Independence Day, Pakistan Day, Quaid-e-Azam Day, and Iqbal Day but the "truth" is, in the last 75 years, the nation has only only celebrated these days but not acknowledged the founding father's purpose.
The premier noted that the country failed to provide the young generation what they deserved.
"Why this nation is still lost even when God has blessed it?" he questioned.