As the by-elections for national and provincial legislatures draw closer and the public sentiment turns against the incumbent government over economic mishandling, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders, in a bid to let the steam out, have unleashed criticism on their own party.
The first to publicly criticise the party over economic “mismanagement” was former federal minister Abid Sher Ali, who is contesting the polls from NA-108 on PML-N’s ticket. The party leader struck a people-friendly tone while commenting on the policies of the incumbent government.
Addressing a press conference with fellow party leader Tallal Chaudhry, he said that the agreement signed by the previous government with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should have been renegotiated as had been done in the past when former finance minister Ishaq Dar was in power. He wondered why it was different this time around.
Slamming Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, the former federal minister said that his heart aches to see Ismail belittle the suffering of the people. He urged the finance minister to spend a day in a tent with the poor people before passing such remarks.
Taking stock of the public’s sentiment against the PML-N, Ali said that the incumbent government was taking the people towards a civil war. He said that he has requested PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif to step in and push the government to reverse its steps.
“Those protesting on the roads against the government are our own people, and we cannot abandon them,” he said, adding that the government should wake up to the plight of the people, otherwise local party leaders will have to stand by the public against them.
He called on the government to increase the subsidy base and requested Federal Minister for Energy Khurram Dastgir to visit company offices to witness the humiliation the public has to face.
Pointing out rising inflation, the PML-N leader said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif should live up to his image and make the policies public friendly.
Chaudhry also voiced similar concerns during the presser but did not offer too many words.
This press conference could be written off as an attempt to win the hearts of the constituents, but another PML-N leader, Hanif Abbasi, also joined in on Friday as he held a separate presser in Rawalpindi.
Abbasi voiced similar concerns but tried to absolve the premier of all blame and shifted it to the finance ministry led by Ismail.
He said that the prime minister was working day and night to fix the country’s economy and even managed to get assurance of a $10 billion investment from foreigners. Slamming the incumbent finance minister, he went on to praise Dar’s tenure.
Speaking to The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity, a member of the premier’s finance team differed with Abbasi’s perspective, saying that the PM was on-board at every step.
The official said that Ismail was performing an audacious task of taking difficult decisions to put the turbulent economy back on track. He added that the finance minister did not have enough space to do things differently.
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