Bilawal hints at hard decisions

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From Zeeshan Mirza

KARACHI: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Sunday said the time had come to take “difficult decisions” for Pakistan’s benefit to rescue it from the current economic crisis.
“Now the time has come to take those difficult decisions in the country’s favour so we can take it out of an economic crisis,” the foreign minister said while addressing a rally in Karachi. Bilawal was seemingly referring to the decision to hike petrol prices, which is being delayed by the government.
FM Bilawal said the government had two options in front of it: to maintain short-term relief and thrust the people into long-term problems, or “we bear short-term pain and arrange long-term relief.”
“We have to take those difficult decisions through which we can take the economy out of the crisis created by [PTI Chairman Imran] Khan,” the foreign minister said, adding that solutions could be found by working together.
Bilawal said the nation was facing “war-like” issues and difficulties and various political opponents had come together in the “unity government” to take responsibility and decide on issues.
“Did you ever think we would be part of the cabinet and run the government with Shehbaz Sharif? Did you ever imagine that we would sit with MQM and do this?” the foreign minister said.
He explained that personal and political differences were forgotten during times of hardship in favour of “national interest”. FM Bilawal added that allied political parties would pursue reforms and work hard to deliver relief to the people.
Earlier in the day, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said the government was not increasing petrol prices “for now”, going back on an important pre-condition set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the resumption of its loan programme.
Analysts and experts have linked the current economic pressure to uncertainty over the continuation of the IMF loan programme coupled with a rising oil import bill and widening trade deficit.
The foreign minister said the conspiracy to oust the PTI government was not hatched inside the White House, as claimed by Imran, but was prepared inside Bilawal House.
Lashing out at Imran, Bilawal rubbished the PTI chief’s claim that his government was ousted through a foreign conspiracy at the behest of the United States.
“Now this selected says it was a foreign conspiracy. It’s not a foreign conspiracy, it was a democratic action. It was the struggle of PPP workers, it was the success of Constitution and parliamentary democracy,” FM Bilawal said.
He said it was the PPP’s efforts that led to the formation of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – an alliance of former opposition parties.
“Forgetting our political differences, together with other parties, we formed the PDM and on September 20, 2020, when we laid the basis for PDM, we had clearly said we would do long marches and protests and that we would also struggle inside parliament and send the PTI government home through a vote of no-confidence,” Bilawal recalled.
He said at first PPP’s allies did not agree on an in-house change but “in politics you have to convince everyone and it is the leader’s responsibility to show the way,” Bilawal said.
“So we convinced others, we practically showed our allies and made them understand not to resign from parliament. When our stance was accepted, the selected government lost all by-elections, proving that their mandate was false and that they had come to the helm through selection.”