During PML-N govt economy was moving in the right direction: Nawaz Sharif

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LONDON: Former PM Nawaz Sharif addressed a press conference with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at Hasan Nawaz Sharif’s office near Hyde Park after the duo held talks for over three hours.

Nawaz Sharif mocked Imran Khan’s claim that he was ousted from power because there was a foreign conspiracy, hatched by the US, against him. "Were you involved in holding an atomic blast? Why will there be a foreign conspiracy against you?" Nawaz asked the ousted premier Khan.

Nawaz who was removed by the Supreme Court from the prime minister's office in 2017 — said during the PMLN's government, the country's economy was moving in the right direction. Nawaz Sharif said that the biggest conspiracy against Pakistan was the imposition of Imran Khan on Pakistan and, as a result, the economy of Pakistan as well as the civility of Pakistan was ruined completely. "But now we will have to repair the damage done to the economy," Nawaz said as he stressed that ousting Khan from power was crucial for the country's development.

He also claimed that there has never been such a hostile political environment in Pakistan as there was during the PTI's tenure. "Khan promoted the culture of hooliganism and immorality. He has caused huge damage to Pakistan in every sense of the word and there is a civil strife in Pakistan at all levels because of Imran Khan," said Nawaz Sharif.

On the occasion, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed similar views and scolded Imran Khan for lying to the nation that he was ousted through a US-instigated conspiracy. When asked by Geo News about Fawad Chaudhary’s statement that Imran Khan lost power because of his tussle with the military establishment and Imran Khan’s claim that the US ousted him, Bilawal said that there was no conspiracy against Imran Khan at the White House. “The conspiracy against Imran Khan was hatched at the Bilawal House to throw out an illegal, selected and cruel government through the power of vote.”

Bilawal said that Imran Khan used to mock PMLN for saying “Mujhay Keeon Nikala” but his own politics has turned to be “Mujhay Keeon Nahee Bechchaya”.

When asked by this reporter if Pakistani institutions had become neutral, Bilawal said he disagreed with the use of the word “neutrality”. He said under Imran Khan, Pakistani institutions had become “controversial” and after the ouster of Imran Khan, the institutions have moved towards their “constitutional role”. Bilawal said the PDM always stressed that institutions should only play their constitutional role and no institution should take side of anyone and he said institutions realised that and now they are playing a constitutional role.

Nawaz Sharif told the joint press briefing that after the ouster of Imran Khan from power, there was an enormous challenge facing the new government and he called for joint efforts from all the parties to resolve Pakistan's issues.

"We need to work together as Pakistan saw the worst of times during the four years that Imran Khan was in power [...] he took U-turns on everything and always did the opposite of what he vowed," Nawaz said.

Taking a jibe at the PTI chairman, Nawaz said that Khan had claimed that he would take his own life before approaching the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial support. "But we did not see him taking his own life till now," he said.

Nawaz thanked Bilawal for visiting him at the office and also informed journalists that they would hold another meeting today (Friday) — but provided no details about it.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari paid tribute to Nawaz Sharif's sacrifices for democracy and said his services were evident before everyone and noted that he came to meet the PML-N supremo to ensure consensus, as once everyone is on the same page, only then they can resolve Pakistan's issues. "I want to congratulate Nawaz Sharif on the democratic removal of Imran Khan in a historic move. Together we have achieved one of the biggest milestones of Pakistan’s democratic history. PMLN and PPP will solve Pakistan's issues once they are on the same page," he said, asking all the institutions to remain within their constitutional parameters.

Bilawal called the removal of Imran Khan as the prime minister a "historic event", adding that his party and PMLN have made history together.

Talking about the efforts of both the parties in overthrowing the former prime minister's government, Bilawal said that it took three to four years for the joint opposition to end the rule of the erstwhile "selected government" in a constitutional way through a no-confidence motion. "We did not involve the judiciary or any other institution to remove Imran Khan from power," said the PPP chairman. "We took a democratic step against the PM who was sitting in the prime minister's chair undemocratically."

He went on to say that the PPP and PMLN's support is as important as it was during the time of the Charter of Democracy (CoD). Bilawal said that Pakistan will move forward and make progress only when institutions play their constitutional role.

Bilawal said that the current government has been formed at a time of “national crisis” and this is a “consensus government”. He said that using the experience and guidance of elders like Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, the new generation will strengthen Pakistan to face off the daunting challenges. Bilawal said the “selected Raaj” of Imran Khan was there to deny media freedoms and fundamental human rights of Pakistanis but luckily the selected Raaj is over and done away with albeit after causing a huge damage to Pakistan. Bilawal and Nawaz Sharif will meet again on Friday for talks. 

Nawaz Sharif said, “We are patriotic Pakistanis and ‘Pakistaniat’ runs in our blood and veins. We feel sorry for the current state of affairs in Pakistan. Imran Khan has ruined Pakistan in four years and destroyed the reputation of the country internationally. Imran Khan’s rule has been the darkest chapter in the history of Pakistan. We are saddened at the state of affairs in Pakistan and what it has been turned into. There are enormous challenges we are facing but we will repair the damage, through national consensus. All the stakeholders from all the provinces including PPP, PMLN, JUIF and others will play their role. We cannot absolve ourselves unless we perform our duties. I have been Pakistan’s PM three times and with the bottom of my heart I wish that we take this country towards stability and progress.”

Bilawal Bhutto said that together PMLN and PPP have achieved a “historic victory”. He said, “We have made history in the past. Within four years, we have ended a selected Raaj which is a historic achievement. Every other prime minister of Pakistan was removed through undemocratic means but only Imran Khan was removed through a democratic no-confidence vote. A non-democratic selected system was imposed on Pakistan and luckily we have removed it. We took no undemocratic step against him. We used the power of Parliament. Pakistan is at the crossroads today. We can either move towards democratic progress or we can go into a reverse gear. Together we can achieve so much for Pakistan.”

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