Relief not provided to middle class, admits Fawad

Says PTI still mired in economic problems inherited from last government

Our Correspondent February 08, 2019
A file photo of Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry. PHOTO: PID

ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry acknowledged on Friday that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government has failed to provide relief to the middle class, the very people that propelled it to power.

Chaudhry, while addressing a ceremony at the National Press Club in Islamabad, said that the ruling party will continue to raise issues faced by the middle class even though they continue to be burdened by economic problems that it inherited from the previous government.

According to Chaudhry, more than one-third of the country’s income goes to debt servicing, over one-third of the country’s income goes to servicing of debt taken in the last 10 years, while another third is apportioned for defence.

"Our total income is approximately Rs5.5 trillion, of which Rs2 trillion goes to debt servicing, Rs1.7 trillion towards our defence budget, and then for the every 10 rupees, six go to the provinces. So, when the federal government starts budgeting [for the year], it is already Rs632bn in the red,” he remarked.

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Chaudhry regretted that taxes have been levied on the salaried class, and gas and electricity rates have increased for them. “We have protected the poor, but the middle class is in pain. And they [middle class voters] are in this state because we do not have money for them."

Talking about the party’s popularity among younger voters, Chaudhry said that Imran Khan raised his voice for youth and the middle class, saying that the 126-day sit-in of the party in 2014 gave a key message regarding redevelopment of the country.

Chaudhry said that by organising the protest, PTI brought to attention the corrupt mafia whose activities had a detrimental impact on the middle class. “Imran Khan surfaced as the biggest leader in this movement. People who have political acumen and knowledge understand that PTI set the basis for a Naya Pakistan under the leadership of Imran Khan,” he said.

He also drew parallels between the impact of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) founder Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in championing issues of the middle class. ”PTI leaders continue to cite the speeches made by Bhutto at rallies, meetings and press conference. It was the movement of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto which played a key role in raising voice for the poor,” he said.

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On the current cadre of leadership, Chaudhry said that PPP and PML N had held the country hostage and entrapped it in heavy debts. “The politics of Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari have come to an end. We are setting a basis for a strong economy,” he remarked.

Calling Imran Khan’s election as prime minister ‘a miracle’, Chaudhry said it showed what a third political force could do in the country. “It was the politics of Imran Khan through which the real faces of Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari were revealed,” he said.

He also repeated claims of their involvement in corruption. According to Fawad, more than Rs700 billion was transferred to fake accounts and pockets of Mr. Zardari while the money for Saaf Pani Project in Punjab was spent on Orange Train. “The former governments wasted the money in the manner of thieves and robbers. The middle class of the country is in severe crisis,” he remarked.


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