ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday criticized ex-premier Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party for launching an anti-government campaign at a time of economic uncertainty, saying the financial challenges of the country could not be addressed through protest demonstrations.
Addressing a group of Chinese nationals working on a hydropower project on the Jhelum River, the prime minister, who was sworn in last month after Khan was ousted in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence, said the last administration had handed over a “sinking economy” to his government after three and a half years in power.
He said his team was working day and night to deal with Pakistan’s economic challenges, including rising inflationary pressure.
“Now that we are trying to fix things, what kind of message are they giving [to the world] with such protests,” he asked, referring to Khan’s anti-government long march to the federal capital. “Can you improve the economy through sit-ins?”
The prime minister recalled that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s scheduled visit to Pakistan in September 2014 had to be postponed due to a similar demonstration by Khan’s PTI party in Islamabad.
“We beseeched [the PTI leadership] to call off their sit-in for three days to ensure the completion of President Xi’s visit,” he continued, “but Imran Khan remained obdurate, and the planned trip was delayed.”
Sharif said it was important to learn from past mistakes and give up a political attitude detrimental to Pakistan’s interests.
Khan has held several public rallies in recent weeks to call for fresh elections.
On Sunday he asked party supporters to join him in Islamabad on Wednesday for a sit-in to mount pressure on the government to announce a date for new elections.
The government has said Khan is trying to “sabotage” the economy by making it difficult for it to