Feb 8 polls will
decide the fate of
Pakistan, draw ‘map
of future’: Shehbaz

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LAHORE:  Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday claimed that Imran Khan-led PTI government landed Pakistan in an economic crisis.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Shehbaz Sharif said the report of Transparency International surfaced three days ago indicates that corruption index decreased during the tenure of Nawaz Sharif.

Shehbaz Sharif said that in the PDM coalition government, the corruption index had reduced from 140 to 133 and the credit of which goes to 13 political parties. President PML-N said that the PML-N government gave subsidies on fertilizers and tube wells across the country.

Shehbaz Sharif addresses press conference in Lahore
Shehbaz Sharif addresses press conference in Lahore

The former prime minister said that people will decide the future of the country by voting in upcoming general elections. Earlier, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif asserted that the ‘all-important’ Feb 8 general elections would decide the fate of Pakistan, urging voters to draw the ‘map of future’ after examining the past.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, the former prime minister said that the people of Pakistan would exercise their right to vote on Feb 8 – the day which according to him – would decide the country’s fate. Shehbaz Sharif pointed out that the PML-N has launched its election campaign, which will be carried out by party’s top leadership, including Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Hamza Shehbaz.

Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday mocked PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari over his repeated invitation for a live debate, as he cited the example of heavy rain in Karachi which has paralysed life in the megacity, which, he said, was enough to the compare the performance of two parties.

Media persons were reporting just few weeks ago that the PML-N leadership could not face the people and had decided to stay at home, he recalled and noted that the massive rallies held in different towns and cities were a proof of how much love and support the masses had for Nawaz Sharif – the three-time prime minister who is eyeing a record fourth stint in office.

Addressing a press conference, he said it seemed that the people would give a clear mandate to the PML-N to govern the country for the next five years.

About the alleged political victimisation of the PTI founder, Shehbaz said the same person used to claim that he won’t spare anyone and send everyone to prison, as the rivals were booked in bogus cases, at a time when he himself resorted to corrupt practices.

Democracy doesn’t mean that a person involved in illegal activities should be forgiven, he asserted in response to a question.

Millions of voters would decide their future through use of ballot on February 8 which his party was going to accept, Shehbaz said, as he listed the achievements of his party under Nawaz Sharif’s government in the past.

Shehbaz said Pakistan witnessed billions of dollars of investment – he largest in the country’s history – during elder Sharif’s 2013-17 government, but the corruption perception index measured by the Transparency International came down.

He mentioned that all sorts of allegations were levelled against the Nawaz government; however, nothing was proven because of the unfounded nature of accusations. Millions of people were benefitting from the projects – including motorways and mass transit systems – launched by the PML-N, Shehbaz added.

On the other hand, the corruption perception index went up during the PTI stint in government, he noted and cited the cases of first allowing the exports and then the imports of sugar and wheat as examples – the moves, he noted, which caused a loss of billions of dollars to Pakistan.

The PML-N president again recalled the case of destroying the people-oriented services and facilities like PKLI and hepatitis centres as well as stopping the supply of free medicines during the PTI tenure.

Political stability is a must for economic development, Shehbaz told the reporters and said the bogus slogans revolving around labelling others thieves only caused uncertainty and frictions in society.

The PTI founding chairman himself used to say that there would be less corruption when there was an honest leader, he remarked and said the Transparency International endorsed the assertion by declaring him more corrupt.

Shehbaz said the PTI government was a product of witchcraft and rigging, adding that the baseless allegations like receiving 45 per cent in the projects funded by China had been spread by the rival party, which chanted the slogans of dacoits and thieves to destabilize Pakistan.

He also highlighted the role played by the then chief justice Saqib Nisar in destroying the PKLI and delaying the Orange Line and said the same judge had declared the PTI chief as Sadiq and Amin [Honest and Truthful].

Campaigning without any fear and restriction is a right of every candidate, but buying voters by distributing money is an insult to the people, he said – a reference to the revelation that the PPP supporters were caught red-handed as they were distributing money to the locals in the constituency from where their chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is contesting election for National Assembly in Lahore.