Give Shehbaz Sharif some time to carry out economic and electoral reforms: Bilawal Bhutto

KARACHI: Blaming former Prime Minister Imran Khan for Pakistan’s current economic travails, foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has urged the people to give the current Shehbaz Sharif dispensation some time to carry out the economic and electoral reforms.
Addressing a gathering at Larkana’s Municipal Stadium on Tuesday to mark the 69th birth anniversary of his mother Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal said it was necessary to send the “selected government” of former prime minister Khan home because it had become a threat to Pakistan’s economy and democracy.
“Pakistan was saved by the departure of the selected government,” he said.
For the first time in the country’s history, the jiyalas (cadres) sent home the selected government through the no-confidence motion as a result of a peaceful struggle, all in a constitutional manner, he added.
Khan was ousted from power in April this year through a no-trust vote in Parliament.
Since his ouster, Khan has been demanding fresh elections.
“Give this government some time to carry out economic and electoral reforms. We will then hopefully come out of the mess left behind by the selected government,” he said.
Bilawal, 33, who became the country’s foreign minister two months ago, argued that Khan had “inked a wrong deal with the IMF,” and played a dangerous game with the country in the name of providing petroleum subsidy, which put Pakistan on the brink of bankruptcy.
The minister expressed hope that Pakistan would be removed from from the “Grey List” of the Paris-based global money-laundering and terror-financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) during its October plenary.
“We fought our case against two FIRs: money laundering and terrorist financing. We were able to persuade countries with which the former rulers [referring to the PTI-led government] were at odds, that Pakistan has taken all steps sought by FATF for removal from the grey list,” Bilawal said, calling it “just the beginning of our journey.”
Last week, Pakistan said it was closely working with the FATF to schedule an early on-site visit by its experts to verify the progress made by the country in countering financing of terrorism and money-laundering activities before removing Islamabad from the “Grey list.”
Pakistan has been on the grey list of the FATF since June 2018 for failing to check money laundering, leading to terror financing, and was given a plan of action to complete the task by October 2019.
Bilawal blamed the Khan government’s flawed policies because of which Pakistan “is internationally isolated and internationally disengaged.”
“At the moment, the focus of the foreign policy is the economy. Our policy is trade, not aid,” he said, while adding, “We have talked to all the countries, including the United States, regarding Pakistan’s businesses with them.”
The Pakistan Peoples Party chief recalled his mother Benazir’s struggle for the restoration of democracy.
Incidentally, she was the first woman elected Prime Minister in the Islamic world.
“She was the voice of the nation. She fought for the youth and women. Her legacy is undying,” Bilawal commented on his mother, who was assassinated during an election rally in Rawalpindi in 2007.

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