Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal on Friday said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted through a “judicial coup” after political destabilisation was created in the country in 2017-18. The PML-N stalwart claimed that the political destabilisation was the reason of economic collapse, which forced the Pakistan Tehreeke-Insaf (PTI) government to go for International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal in its first year.
He was expressing his views on the country’s economic condition with Shahbaz Rana and Kamran Yousaf, the hosts of the Express News talk show, The Review. To a question if the country was progressing so much, why the new government went to the IMF in 2018, the PML-N leader said, “This story starts from 2017 when political destabilisation was created in the country and a sitting prime minister was removed through a judicial coup.”
In 2017-18, Iqbal said, the international media started publishing news that “Pakistani establishment has decided that it would not allow the PML-N to come back to power”, saying it stopped the foreign direct investment (FDI) as the investors shied away on the grounds that they would wait for the next election results before investing in Pakistan. At that time, he said, Pakistan was becoming an investment destination because the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was expanding and every other diplomat would ask about investment opportunities generated by the multibillion-dollar project.
Due to the political destabilisation, he said, they stopped and ultimately the country had to go for the IMF programme in 2018. Countering the allegation that the PML-N massively increased the current account deficit (CAD) during its tenure, Iqbal said, the PML-N did record investment in infrastructure projects and Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s ratings agencies said at that time that it was a one-time phenomenon and CAD would be rationalised once the projects were completed in the next three to four years.
The FDI and exports can reduce CAD, he said, adding that the third factor is remittances but one can’t surely predict it. He, however, regretted that the incumbent government’s priorities were incorrect and the whole focus was on political victimisation instead of focusing on increasing the FDI and exports in the past three years. Commenting on the slow progress of CPEC and China’s commitment with Pakistan, he said, the connection wasn’t just limited to government-to-government but it was based on state-to-state and peopleto-people and there was no dearth of enthusiasm between the two countries.
On CPEC, he said, China used to call it a flagship project but the Pakistani government couldn’t maintain the momentum in the last three years on CPECrelated projects. He said that the Western route had to be completed by 2018 but it has not yet been completed; which is “disappointing”. He recalled that a Chinese investor, who was ready to purchase land for establishing a cement plant in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, suddenly changed his mind because he felt insecure seeing that if a sitting prime minister could be sent packing with one stroke of the pen then he was just another investor in the country.