In the wake of growing uncertainty in the country, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appeared perplexed over both the agenda of his political challengers Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri as well as the identity of those who were dictating that agenda and manipulating his foes.
At the launch of Vision 2025, which was released three days ahead of the planned protests by Pakistan Awami Tahreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI), PM Nawaz showcased his party’s efforts to “put the country on the path of development”.
He used the forum to let the people know about what he is thinking at this critical juncture of the country’s history.
The premier said he did not know where his government was at fault and why Imran’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) want to “attack” the federal capital.
He said the country’s survival is only in democracy, stating that his party has the people’s mandate to govern and he will defend that mandate. “We will not allow anybody to sabotage the agenda of development.”
PM Nawaz spent a significant part of his speech in counting the ills of dictatorship and the benefits of a democratic political set-up.
“Democracy builds the country and the dictatorships destroy it,” he said while urging the masses to take notice of the forces that want to derail the system. Every democratic government comes to power via voting and should end its term the same way, he added.
He said a revolution cannot be brought by those who do not get more than 200 votes. He also criticised Imran Khan, stating that the PTI chief should have held the Azadi March during the general elections and not a year after they were held.
He, however, held out an olive branch to Imran and said he was ready to meet him anywhere. The prime minister stated that the PTI chief should speak to him about his reservations regarding the government’s policies. “I am even ready to come to your house again if you call me for negotiations.”
Meanwhile, he regretted that the people have not learnt lessons from the country’s 67-year history and argued that dictatorships have destroyed Pakistan. PM Nawaz said the country was not passing through ideal times, as its relations were strained with its neighbours, India and Afghanistan.
He also criticised the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government, saying PTI did not implement its manifesto in the province. “PTI is not performing any miracles in K-P.”
He clarified that he never promised to end load-shedding within two years but claimed that there will be no load-shedding in the country by the end of his government’s tenure. He admitted that Pakistan’s economy did not have a turnaround during the last one year but there was a marked improvement in economic conditions.
While the premier was speaking his heart inside the Convention Centre, the city’s administration was busy in erecting barricades on roads across the red-zone to block access to key government installations ahead of PTI’s Azadi march.
Also speaking at the occasion was Finance Minister Ishaq Dar who alleged that the PTI lost the general elections due to corruption in awarding party tickets to its candidates.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2014.
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