Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in an address to the nation on Thursday, said the incumbent government would hand over the reins to the caretaker set-up in August.
PM Shehbaz had made a similar announcement yesterday as well, in which he declared that the term of his government would end on August 14.
He, however, did not clear the confusion about whether the coalition partners would go for the normal dissolution of the National Assembly (NA) on completion of its term on August 12 or he would advise the president for an early dissolution.
The five-year term of the NA commenced under the then-PTI government on August 12, 2018 and will be completed under a PM-Shehbaz-led ruling coalition following the ouster of former premier Imran Khan through a no-confidence vote in April last year.
At the outset of an address — broadcast on television — today, the prime minister recalled that he was given the “sacred responsibility” of running the country and “working for its welfare” in April last year.
“We will hand over this responsibility to the caretaker set-up in August 2023,” he added.
He maintained that the incumbent government, in mere 15 months of its brief tenure, cleaned the “rubble of destruction”, which he said was a work of the PTI over the last four years.
“We cleaned the landmines laid in the way of Pakistan’s interests” and “doused the fire” that erupted because of “mismanagement, inefficiency and conspiracy in running the affairs of the country, including the economy and foreign affairs”, the PM said.
“This brief 1.5-year (sic) period was a journey from the darkness of hopelessness to the light of hope … it was the beginning of gaining something after losing everything … it was a journey of returning to development from anarchy and chaos.”
The journey of the government, he continued, was that of returning to economic development and providing relief to the nation that was stricken by inflation, floods and unemployment.
“This was the journey of restoring human dignity, chastity, national self-sufficiency, media and freedom of speech.”
The premier stated that the incumbent coalition government was a “one of its kind” in Pakistan’s democratic history, which was formed for the briefest of periods but faced the “toughest challenges and difficulties”.
“This government has actually set a standard and direction — that despite lack of time and never-ending difficulties, the country can be steered out of crises,” he said, adding that this could only be achieved through hard work and by working sincerely.
PM Shehbaz maintained that during the past few months, his government “sacrificed politics to protect the state”.
“We did not worry about our vote bank but worried about the consistent increase in the State Bank of Pakistan.”
On the International Monetary Fund programme, he said the previous government had signed the deal but then violated it and pushed the country to the brink of default.
“While we were trying to restore the programme, former rulers were busy hatching anti-state conspiracies day and night,” he said, adding that despite all the roadblocks, his government did not lose hope and successfully reached an arrangement with the IMF.
“Today, the danger of Pakistan’s default and their (former rulers) impure wishes have been buried.”
The PM also took the opportunity to thank Pakistan’s brotherly countries, namely China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, for playing a “praise-worthy role” in bringing the country out of the economic crisis.
Furthermore, he appreciated the efforts of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and army chief Gen Asim Munir.
The premier stated that Pakistan had become habitual of taking loans, which according to him had damaged the country’s reputation and honour. “It is now time to stand on our own feet and gain our lost position.”
For this purpose, he said a comprehensive national plan had been prepared that was aimed at economic restoration.
“The Special Investment Facilitation Council has started functioning and under it, paths for investment from Gulf countries in agriculture, industry, mineral, energy, IT and defence production are being paved,” the premier elaborated, adding that the federal and provincial governments along with military institutions would make these efforts successful through their collective wisdom and efforts.
Referring to the restoration of investor confidence, the surge in the Pakistani rupee and the stock market, and the improvement in Pakistan’s rating by the Fitch, PM Shehbaz said these were all “glimpses of a journey towards economic growth”.
“The nation now has just one path before it — of breaking the begging bowl and stand on our own feet.
“These shackles of dependency on others can only be broken if we believe in hard work, fulfil our promises, and serve the country with sincerity.
“Let’s eradicate hate and spread love. Let’s become one nation,” he added, concluding his address.