Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Sunday claimed that the PTI government had returned $10 billion debt in three years but despite that, the country was still being crushed under a “mountain of loans”.
At a news conference accompanied by Communications and Postal Services Minister Murad Saeed, Fawad maintained that the previous governments of the PML-N and PPP had doubled the country’s debts during their tenures.
The minister accused the Sharifs and Zardaris of “stealing Pakistan's wealth”, saying the former ruling families had stashed the loans taken for the country in their foreign accounts.
He added that they were still hiding millions of dollars in their accounts in London and Paris.
In a comment on the construction of motorways, the minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan was not against them, but the corruption being committed in their name.
“It is pertinent to note the timing of purchase of Avenfield flats and the construction of the motorway. The Sharif family was purchasing the Avenfield flats in the UK at the same time when the most expensive agreement of the region for the construction of a motorway was being signed in the country by the then PML-N government.”
He claimed that the country had to pay $2 billion in interest to a company, which had signed an agreement with the then government to construct the motorway.
He also mentioned a story published in a leading national daily on December 4, 2002 stating that the cost of the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway had exceeded to Rs60 billion.
The minister said nations "are destroyed when cabinet members were involved in corruption".
He took a dig at PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, saying the opposition leader in the National Assembly was criticising the government over inflation but apparently his “peons had deposited $25 million in their accounts”.
Speaking on the occasion, Murad termed the past 10 years the “darkest decade” in the country’s history.
He claimed that the PTI government had not built a single motorway with borrowed money as the premier was against constructing roads by taking loans.
“In the PML-N era, a four-lane road was built at a cost of Rs370 million while under the present government, a four-lane road is being built at a cost of Rs170 million,” he said.
He added that the PML-N government had minted around Rs1 trillion in awarding highways and motorways contracts.
“The PTI government has saved billion of rupees by ensuring transparency in road infrastructure projects.”
Murad said the government had completed planning for the construction of additional 6,118km roads, highways and motorways including Peshawar-Dera Ismail Khan and Swat Motorways phase-II and many other mega projects.
Separately, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib asked the PML-N president to bring back his absconding elder brother Nawaz Sharif from London instead of criticizing the government.
"You are a guarantor of your brother and you helped him flee the country to reach London, so bring him back before criticising the government," the minister said in a statement while reacting to Shehbaz’s anti-government rhetoric.
He said Shehbaz had no right to celebrate his party's victory in the cantonment board elections as the PML-N was completely wiped out from three provinces including Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh due to its poor performance.
The PML-N had been relegated to a region, he said while referring to the party’s political presence in Punjab.
It was the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf which took the lead in cantonment board elections, he said, asking Shehbaz to show some moral courage and accept his party's defeat in the election.
The minister said it had become a habit of the PML-N to single out rigging wherever they faced defeat, and termed those elections transparent where they emerged victorious.
He said all the elections held in the past under traditional way were marred by rigging controversy; therefore, the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) was crucial to ensure free, fair and transparent polls in the country.
Describing the EVMs as “guarantor” of transparent elections, he said the opposition had every right to do politics, but they should help the government reform the system by setting aside their personal interests.
He said those who dreamed to defeat the PTI in the last general election would face a humiliated defeat in the next polls.
Those, who remained in power turn-by-turn, had looted the country “ruthlessly”, he said, adding that they also went to the International Monetary Fund for the first time to borrow money.
(With input from APP)
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