MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government “tried its best” to resolve the country’s economic woes without the International Monetary Fund’s assistance.
Sharing his thoughts with journalists following a $6 billion loan agreement between Pakistan and the IMF, Qureshi said the government pursued the global lender to soften its terms and conditions for the financial package.
When the PTI came to power, there was a difference of $19 billion in imports and exports, he noted, adding that there was no investment or avenues for the creation of jobs.
“The PTI government tried its best to settle financial issues without the IMF,” the minister said.
Qureshi said the PTI government had managed to reduce sales tax on petroleum products to 17 per cent from 56 per cent during the PML-N tenure and was striving hard to enhance the tax net base.
The past regimes remained dependent on indirect taxation, however, the incumbent government was trying to bring more people into the tax net as it would help reduce the burden on the common public, he said.
To a question, he said some powers did not want stability in Pakistan.
“They do not want to see the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) completed as it would enhance regional connectivity,” he said.
To a query about India, the foreign minister said Pakistan would never respond in an irresponsible way.
“When we will have solid evidence then we will talk. India has already faced humiliation internationally as it could not prove any evidence against Pakistan on the Pulwama incident.”
Qureshi further said funds of Rs680 million for south Punjab secretariat would be earmarked in the upcoming budget.
He said the PML-N was not interested in the creation of south Punjab province and it wanted to create division among people of south Punjab.
He said three PTI MNAs – Sardar Nasrullah Dareshak, Samiullah Chaudhary and Zahoor Qureshi – had submitted a bill in the National Assembly Secretariat for creation of south Punjab province.
He himself had assisted the MNAs in framing the bill and they would urge the NA speaker to consider the bill in the session to be held on May 13, the minister continued.
On the issue of human trafficking to China, Qureshi said the government was in contact with the Chinese leadership regarding the matter.
He, however, added that conspiracies were being hatched to damage Pak-China relations.
China and Pakistan would ink an agreement on agriculture framework which would benefit the country’s agriculture sector, he added.
The Chinese vice president is scheduled to visit Pakistan on May 26 in this regard, Qureshi added.
He said the Local Government Act 2019 had been approved and it would lead to powerful local government institutions which would serve the masses.
The local bodies would be given 30 per cent budget and the masses would feel relief at the grassroots level, he added.