Thursday, November 30, 2023
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) clapped back at the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for putting all the blame for inflation on its previous coalition government partner as the political temperature rises with elections set to take place in February next year.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has been calling the PML-N "mehangai [inflation] league", saying that during the 16-month stint, the Nawaz Sharif-led party was solely responsible for the rising prices — hinting that the PPP had no role in the rising prices.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) tenure — of which the PPP, PML-N, and several other parties were part — ended in August earlier this year, with inflation skyrocketing, energy and fuel prices shooting to all-time highs, and a sharp reduction in foreign reserves.
The tenure faced one of the worst economic crises and the political turmoil also added fuel to the fire as the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was on the streets protesting against their government’s ouster. “Pakistan’s going to default” was a frequent term used during the term, but it was finally put aside with Pakistan secured a short-term International Monetary Fund agreement.
In his conversation on Geo News’ programme “Capital Talk”, Musadik Malik — who served as the Minister of State for Petroleum during the PDM government — slammed Bilawal for targeting the PML-N for rising inflation and noted that all decisions in their 16-month stint were collective.
In his jibe at Bilawal, Malik reminded the PPP chairman that he had the foreign ministry, but he undermined him when he was trying to secure a Russian oil deal — at a time when the country’s petrol prices were reaching new highs.
“So when the minister had the portfolio of Foreign Ministry and I finalised a [oil] deal with Russia, he called it truck ki batti [false hope]. What was that? He should talk about his role as well. Was it my job to secure deals in Azerbaijan Russia? And you, while sitting in the US, said it was truck ki batti. So didn’t we reach our destination while following this truck ki batti?” asked Malik.
In his press conference in December 2022 at the UN, then-foreign minister Bilawal rejected reports that Pakistan was seeking to procure oil from Russia. “It is nothing more than truck ki batti,” he said — as Malik was announcing that a deal had been struck with Russia for purchasing “discounted” oil.
Pakistan had imported around two oil cargoes from Russia in June this year, but the then-ministers had clarified that even though it was cheaper, it would take time to pass on its effect to the masses.
Malik reiterated that Bilawal should refrain from criticising his former coalition partners, noting that the PPP played a fine role while they were in the government.
“[This] isn’t a good thing that I sit here and criticise. I believe that the Peoples Party played a good role. We took stern decisions and in every decision, the Peoples Party stood by us.”
He added: “But this is injustice. If we start criticising one another, then I will ask what was his foreign policy when he opposed the Russian oil deal. These are irresponsible statements. We were collective [in past govt]. We had shared responsibilities.
“They had the foreign, industries, climate, and commerce ministries. So it means that whatever went wrong in the industrial sector, it was because of them. They were also responsible for the trade deficits. But not just them, but us as well. This is an unjust behaviour and they revise it.”