August 14, 2023
ISLAMABAD – In his farewell address to the nation on Sunday as the prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif urged the people not to let the “blackness and destruction” witnessed after former PM Nawaz Sharif’s tenure be foisted upon the country again.
His remark was an apparent reference to the PTI, which came to power after the end of Nawaz’s term. The Imran Khan-led party’s tenure saw a premature end after he was ousted from the PM’s office through a no-confidence vote in April last year.
In what seemed to be an appeal to the people to choose his party over Imran’s in the next elections, PM Shehbaz said, “We sacrificed our politics for the interests of Pakistan and its people.
“If we, as a nation, make the right decisions … you will emerge successful against inflation and economic destruction soon.”
The outgoing premier began his speech by announcing that he was handing over the responsibility of running the country to a caretaker government following the conclusion of his government’s 16-month tenure.
Referring to the ouster of Imran from the top office and the formation of a new government in April 2022, he said, “We came [to power] through constitutional means,” adding that his government was leaving contented that it had not been dishonest in using the powers given to it.
The premier also expressed gratitude to the nation and leaders of other parties for showing confidence in him to fulfil the responsibility of the country’s chief executive.
“It is [also] a favour of God on us that he gave us the capability and courage to steer the country out of the worst economic, political and foreign policy crises in history.
“Time and record will be a witness that we saved the country from [possible] default and consequent destruction,” he said.
About a bailout loan agreement reached with the International Monetary Fund in the last days of his government, he said the deal had brought economic stability to the country.
The prime minister then went on to list what he dubbed the achievements of his government and measures that had put that country on the path to progress and financial independence.
“We tread a thorny and fiery path during the last 16 months. It was clear soon after we came to power that Pakistan was facing extremely destructive circumstances.
“And had we held elections immediately [after coming to power], we would have made political gains. But the grave situation in the country did not allow us to make political gains.
“We were not selfish and prioritised Pakistan’s national interests … We made the most difficult of decisions, and time proved that we made the right decision,” he added.
The PM blamed the previous PTI government for inflation and said his government was compelled to make difficult decisions to save the country from default.
Now, he said, the time had come to provide those resources to the impoverished and poor that were rightfully theirs. “The poor have given enough sacrifices. It is now time for the rich to render sacrifices.”
PM Shehbaz expressed the hope that businessmen and industrialists would share the burden of the poor and contribute towards making the country financially independent, as they had done in the past.
“Today, the entire nation has agreed on a common narrative of financial independence, just like it had previously united on a narrative to counter terrorism,” he said, adding that the Special Investment Facilitation Council had been constituted to achieve this purpose, under which projects worth billions of dollars were to be initiated in the coming months and years.
PM Shehbaz maintained that if his government’s economic policies continued, a significant reduction in inflation would be witnessed.
He congratulated Balochistan Awami Party Senator Anwaarul Haq Kakar for being chosen as the interim PM and said, “He (Kakar)belongs to our great province Balochistan, and I am sure that … he will ensure free and fair elections are held in the country.”
The premier also lauded the armed forces for their sacrifices and bravery in protecting the country.