-Says PMO’s leaks put Pakistan’s prestige at stake
-Announces formation of high-level probing panel on leaks fiasco
-Fears no one would feel free to speak with PM out of privacy concerns because of such scandals
-Dismisses allegations that Maryam ever sought favour from him for her son-in-law
-Hopes Pakistan is now coming out of diplomatic backwater
To chair NSC meeting on various issues today-
By Ali Imran
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said “audio leaks” had marred the country’s standing in the international community as no one would feel free to speak with the prime minister out of privacy concerns.
He said this while addressing a press conference at the Prime Minister’s House in the federal capital.
The younger Sharif said the “audio leaks” scandal was a critical matter and he was in the process of forming a high-level committee to probe into it.
“Who is going to visit the Pakistani prime minister from overseas now?” the PM questioned. “This scandal has put the prestige of a 220 million-strong nation at stake.”
Replying to a question, the PM dismissed allegations that PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz ever sought favour from him for the import of machinery for her son-in-law.
The prime minister said he fought Pakistan’s case with all his might at the United Nation’s 77th General Assembly and highlighted the plight of millions of flood victims before the world nations.
“I don’t think we have done anything to deserve the disaster of flooding that has displaced millions and so far claimed the lives of over 16,00 people,” the PM while talking to the press.
The PM added he had fruitful meetings with the world leaders, especially the heads of the state of China and Russia, who also pledged aid for Pakistan’s flood-hit population.
He said unlike the last government headed by the PTI, the coalition regime was going the extra mile to reconnect with the world, especially friendly countries.
“The PTI government isolated Pakistan by estranging a number of close allies,” the PM said adding, “now we are coming out of that diplomatic backwater, thanks to the efforts of our Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto- Zardari, Sherry Rehman, and Maryam Aurangzeb”.
He said the former government pushed the economy to the brink of collapse because of its incompetence. “Imran Khan-led government disgraced Pakistan before the world because of their ‘diplomacy of begging’,” he said.
The PM also alleged that Pakistan’s prestige and honour were jeopardised by the former rulers as — during their meetings with the global leaders — they used to carry themselves as though international delegations were beggars.
“I cannot repeat what the leaders of Pakistan’s friendly nations told me about the previous government, as they are state secrets. You’ll sweat if I tell what they said,” PM Shehbaz remarked, adding that they complained of the last government communicating in a disrespectful manner.
He added that this behaviour of the PTI government damaged Pakistan’s reputation, while also destroying the economy. The premier said that he presented Pakistan’s strong position on Kashmir, Palestine, and Islamophobia. He added that the treatment of Muslims in India was also strongly condemned.
Commenting on the expenses incurred during his recent visits, PM Shehbaz said: “From being the chief minister to becoming the prime minister, I’ve paid all expenses from my own pocket.”
Talking about the UN’s support of Pakistan’s climate change crisis, the premier said that UN Secretary-General António Guterres has spoken for the people of Pakistan. “We are preparing for the donor conference and will not delay it,” he said.
During the presser, a journalist told PM Shehbaz that Khan would run clips of the prime minister in his political rallies showing him begging for money from the world.
Responding to the journalist’s comment, the premier said: “Was Khan going abroad to give money? If I’m going to beg, then was Khan carrying coffers [filled with] money?”
The prime minister added that Khan, who accuses him, should look in the mirror. He said, “Was Khan going abroad for four years to give them coffers?” The premier further questioned if Khan was giving out Pakistan’s money to charity for the last four years. “Khan, you should fear God. You have destroyed Pakistan?” PM Shehbaz said.
The premier further questioned that when they [PTI] extended the army chief’s tenure “did they consult us?” PM Shehbaz went on to say that whatever decision will be taken will be according to the law and constitution.
Taking a jibe at PTI’s stance of “imported government”, he said: “If our government is imported then why would Russia’s president meet me nicely?” He maintained that if Russia is ready to provide us with cheap wheat, then we are ready to take it.