PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Sunday assailed the PDM government for bringing the country to the cusp of default, and accused the media of turning a blind eye towards economic matters and instead focusing on the Toshakhana wristwatch, which he said was rightfully his to “sell or do whatever I want to with it”.
He made these remarks at a press conference in Lahore where he began by comparing his government’s performance with that of the incumbent PDM setup, whom he blamed for the looming threat of default.
“The reason for my media talk today is to make the people aware of the direction that our country is heading in,” he said. “If we don’t raise our voice then Pakistan will experience something it has never before and we will default. All the funding from abroad will be stopped.
“A default would mean the country’s income in dollars has stopped, and the rupee will devalue further. The cabal of crooks imposed on us doesn’t care about any of this. They have been stealing money for the last 30 years. They have stashed huge amounts of money abroad.”
Imran said that the ruling elite does not “care if the country defaults because their money is stashed abroad in the form of dollars”. “But the circumstance of a default is worrying for the common man,” he added.
“A default will be a very big loss for Pakistan. No investment will come back into Pakistan. No overseas Pakistani will be willing to invest in Pakistan.”
He recalled that the dollar rate was Rs178 when he was ousted as the prime minister. “Today we can’t even purchase a dollar for Rs250.”
The PTI chief claimed that when he came into power in 2018, he had inherited a fragile economy but had turned it around, only to see his work undone by the present setup.
“When we got Pakistan [government] in 2018, we had the largest current account deficit,” he said. “When our government was ousted, the GDP growth was at six per cent. These figures were usually only seen during the martial laws of Ayub, Zia and Musharraf. This was because [during their eras] we were receiving dollars from the US.
“They didn’t make any dams but we made six dams, out of which two were massive. We launched the health card that was praised by foreign magazines. Our Ehsaas programme was internationally acknowledged. The billion tree tsunami was praised around the world. UK prime minister Boris Johnson mentioned my name and our climate change programme at the UN.”
Imran accused the media of looking the other way on important matters and instead focusing on what he implied were trivial issues, such as his Toshakhana watch.
“The channels that used to bash the PTI government for inflation, those channels are quiet now and are instead focused on a watch,” he said. “It’s my watch. I can sell it, and I can do whatever I want. No one is talking about the economic murder being committed now.
“Today, the inflation is double and at a 50-year high. Where are those media houses now? No one cares about inflation now. No one believed us when we used to say that inflation was due to global reasons. When these cabal of crooks say the same thing, no one is questioning.”
It is pertinent to mention that Imran has been accused by a Dubai-based businessman of selling him an expensive Graff wristwatch — gifted to the PTI chief by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman — for $2 million, worth approximately Rs280m at the time of sale in 2019.
The former prime minister said that the PDM government does not have a roadmap to drag the country out of the economic crisis. “The economic situation will keep worsening if this government stays in power because there will be no political stability. The economy only grows when there is a certainty.”
Imran claimed that his victory in the next elections was so certain that the government was running away from the polls. “They are only trying to delay elections as much as they can,” he said. “Nawaz Sharif will do anything but he won’t go for elections. They are scared that the cases will be revived when they lose power after the elections.”
When asked if he had noticed any change in the military’s policy towards him and his party, he replied: “I haven’t seen any change so far. The new army chief is here, and he should be given time. We have heard good things about him. We have a lot of expectations of him.”