PM, JUI-F chief mull providing economic relief to people

Move aimed at regaining political capital lost because of ‘tough decisions’ before next polls


Rizwan Shehzad December 07, 2022
PDM leaders addressing press conference in Islamabad. SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and JUI-F President Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Tuesday were unanimous that the government would have to provide economic relief to the people to gain public opinion in the favour of the ruling alliance before the next elections.

The details emerged after Fazl called on Shehbaz at the Prime Minister's House on Tuesday.

Sources in the government said that the prime minister and the head of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) -- the ruling multi-party alliance -- agreed that only economic relief could help rebuilding political capital for the incumbent parties in power for the next elections that they ‘burned’ by making some ‘tough decisions' after taking over from the previous PTI regime in April this year.

The sources said both the leaders were unanimous that only economic relief could save the PML-N-led government from the current popularity wave of the PTI.

The key allies discussed the overall political situation, economic challenges, delay in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan money, relief expected in the shape of ‘foreign investment’ from friendly countries, upcoming elections, flood relief operations and government’s strategy to regain its lost political capital.

Also read: PM vows ‘proactive’ implementation of Journalist Safety Law to ensure media freedom

The bigwigs of the ruling alliance also contemplated on the situation arising after PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s decision to dissolve Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assemblies.

They discussed about the next elections, possibility of holding talks with PTI and if the government should submit a no-confidence motion against Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi or opt for polls.

A JUI-F leader disclosed that the Maulana was still adamant that there should be no talks with the PTI chairman, saying tabling a no-confidence motion against the Punjab CM was not the top priority right now.

He, however, added that being an ally of the ruling party, sometimes it had to change their stance because they had to listen to others in a coalition set-up.

Sources in the ruling alliance, while admitting that the PTI’s popularity wave and the winning streak in the recent elections, had badly hurt the coalition government.

Also read: ‘Pakistan in financial emergency’

They added that the government was throwing a gauntlet to the PTI chief to go ahead with his decision of dissolving the provincial assemblies and gearing up for the next elections.

It is in line with the statement of the information and other ministers, who have recently said that the government was not afraid of the snap elections and would go for polls if the PTI went ahead with its decision of dissolving the Punjab and K-P assemblies.

The JUI-F leader, while calling the huddle between PM Shehbaz and the Maulana a ‘routine meeting’, said they both discussed about providing maximum relief to the people and bringing foreign investment from friendly countries.

The leader added that the PM and the JUI-F chief noted that the dollar rate, prices of petroleum products and inflation had remained static for the past few weeks, saying the “break was a good sign”.

Agreeing that the rupee should have gained some more strength against the greenback by now and inflation should have been reduced, he said the situation had not become worse and soon there would be “good news” for the people of the country.

Referring to the announcement that Pakistan would receive oil from Russia at a discounted rate, the leader said that foreign investment would also coming to the country soon and matters would start becoming better.

He, however, refrained from divulging any further details, saying “let the matters mature a bit”.

A PML-N leader said it was also being discussed in the government circles that the PTI chairman’s allegations of a US-backed conspiracy and the harm that they caused should also be highlighted.

While conjecturing that chances were slim that the PTI chief would opt for the dissolution of the assemblies, he said the PML-N was ready to contest elections if he went ahead with the move.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah also called on PM Shehbaz.

In the meeting, the political and overall situation of the country was reviewed.

The rehabilitation work in the flood-affected areas of Sindh  was also discussed.

The PM and the Sindh CM agreed to further strengthen the relations between the Centre and the provincial government for public welfare and development.

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