Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has said that his government has been able to navigate the challenges faced by Pakistan in the best possible fashion with the help of its people and brotherly and friendly countries.

In an interview with Anadolu News Agency posted on its website on Monday, the prime minister said Pakistan had been facing a plethora of problems since April 2022, when the current government took over after former prime minister Imran Khan was ousted in a no-trust vote. “The issues are the result of the previous government’s policies,”he said.

“Pakistan, in April 2022, was on the verge of default because the government of the day had violated the IMF agreement and the economy was in tatters,” he maintained. “Then we had devastating floods in August 2022. Combined with that we are facing galloping inflation, because of the international situation,” he added.

To a question, PM Sharif said Pakistan was very hopeful of finalizing a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this month. “We are still very hopeful that the IMF programme will materialize. Our ninth review by the IMF will match all terms and conditions and, hopefully, we’ll have some good news this month,” he said in Ankara.

The prime minister was in Ankara for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inauguration ceremony.

“We have met all conditionalities. I repeat, each and every requirement of the IMF as prior actions has been met,” he asserted. “Some of those actions are usually met after the board’s approval, but this time the IMF required that those actions be met before the board’s approval, so we have met them,” he was quoted by the Turkish news agency as saying.

The prime minister said the people of Pakistan had faced challenges in the past, and if needed, would tighten their belt and rise again.

About May 9 vandalism, he said PTI chief Imran Khan faced charges of “serious corruption, malpractice, and wheeling-dealing,” stressing that the “law had to deal with this.”

He (Imran Khan) for a period of time, had been preparing his people mentally, his bunch of thugs as he would call them, to react violently, in case he was arrested, the prime minister added.

Sharif said: “He (IK) planned this very serious act against the state of Pakistan. He incited his people. There’s evidence beyond any doubt.”

Khan’s supporters were instructed to torch buildings, attack institutions, and desecrate graves and monuments, he added. “Those people who have attacked civilian installations will be tried under civilian law, and those people who attacked military installations and desecrated institutions will be tried under the Military Act,” the prime minister elaborated.

About cases under the Military Act, the prime minister explained that ‘once the judge awards punishment, the defendant has two appeals - one in the high court and then in the Supreme Court of Pakistan’. He said that the bottom line of the entire process was ensuring justice so that such thing could never took place in Pakistan, for the rest of their lives.

“Would any civilized country allow this kind of vandalism against the state, which happened on May 9 in Pakistan?” he questioned. The prime minister cited an example of incidents that took place on January 6, 2021 at Capitol Hill in Washington. Were not those perpetrators being tried and given severe punishments so that such an act could never happen again in the history of the United States! he maintained.

The prime minister also congratulated the people of Turkey on President Erdogan’s reelection, hailing it as a “wonderful development”. “I will work very closely with my brother, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a visionary leader and a man of commitment who believes in public service. I hope our relations will enhance to a much higher level in terms of brotherhood, understanding, and economic cooperation,” he said.