Govt slams PTI for dragging EU, IMF into domestic squabbles

Govt slams PTI for dragging EU, IMF into domestic squabbles

• Minister assails party for approaching international forums ‘against country’s interest’
• PTI rejects accusations; EU delegation denies receiving anything official

ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Attaullah Tarar on Wednesday accused the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) of conspiring against Pakistan by approaching the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), against the country’s interests.

“PTI spokespersons are getting instructions from [Adiala] jail to harm the country. But no one will be allowed to harm the economy,” Mr Tarar said while addressing his maiden press conference after assuming charge as the Minister for Information and Broadcasting.

However, a PTI spokesperson rejected his accusations, calling them nothing but “a pack of lies, falsehoods and nonsense”.

He made it clear that the PTI had neither written any letter to EU, nor did it plan to do so.

Criticising the PTI leadership, the minister said “conspirators” were again trying to attack the country’s economy just as the PTI did in the past, too, by writing a letter to the IMF asking it not to enter into a loan agreement with the Pakistan government. He alleged the PTI founder had tried to make the country default, but failed when Pakistan entered into an agreement with the IMF.

This time again, he added, the PTI leadership attempted to sabotage the agreement with the IMF through another letter. He asked in what capacity they were writing such letters to the IMF.

“Protecting the state of Pakistan and the national interest is our first responsibility. Strategies and steps are being taken for the revival of the economy,” Mr Tarar said. However, he added, there was another political party that did not see anything beyond itself, and it did not care about the national interests or integrity.

The minister explained, “If Pakistan has GSP Plus status, foreign exchange will come, our exports will increase, rupee will become stable, inflation will be reduced and employment opportunities will be provided.”

However, in reply to a question, the minister said that those elements [PTI] were contacting the European Union, asking the bloc to withdraw GSP Plus status granted to Pakistan. He said the move was tantamount to a conspiracy and nefarious attempt to make the poor people of Pakistan suffer.

PTI assails Tarar

Reacting to his press conference, the PTI slammed Mr Tarar for his accusations, saying that neither the PTI had written any letter to EU to revoke Pakistan’s GSP Plus status nor had any plan to do so rather it was only after PTI’s founder Imran Khan’s assurance that the IMF agreed to release the second tranche of its bailout package for Pakistan.

The PTI spokesperson rejected Mr Tarar’s accusations as “a pack of lies, falsehoods and nonsense”.

The spokesperson said the “mandate thieves” should bring back the plundered national wealth parked abroad to the country to stabilise the crippling economy of Pakistan, instead of lecturing others on patriotism.

He claimed the PTI efforts for the success of IMF programme were visible even in the face of the worst oppression and suppression and political victimisation.

He challenged that the minister should muster the courage to tell the truth to the nation that actually the programme was “delayed due to stubbornness of Ishaq Dar and his party”, which the then PML-N’s ministers had admitted openly.

He alleged that the sole objective of these so-called ‘experienced’ ministers of ‘PDM-2’ was not the national welfare but to fill their coffers by looting the national treasury ruthlessly once again.

He suggested the “government of Form 47” to shun the politics of lies and deceits, and make the nation’s welfare and prosperity its top priority.

EU denies receipt

Meanwhile, the European Union’s delegation in Islamabad said on Wednesday it had not received any formal communication from the PTI regarding the GSP+ trade status currently held by Pakistan.

“We have not received any official communication from PTI regarding GSP+,” Samar Saeed Akhtar, Press Officer for the EU Delegation, clarified the EU’s position to Dawn.

Since 2014, Pakistan has enjoyed the benefits of the GSP+, a program designed by the EU to motivate developing countries to uphold principles of human rights, labor rights, environmental conservation, and good governance through trade incentives, including reduced tariffs for their exports to the EU market. This preferential status hinges on the country showing substantial progress in implementing 27 international conventions covering a wide range of rights and governance issues.

The EU rigorously monitors compliance with these conventions, utilising reports from the UN and other international bodies, and conducts regular assessments through missions on the ground. These evaluations are reflected in reports to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, with the biennial reviews completed in 2016, 2018, 2020, and 2022. The latest review highlighted continuing concerns over enforced disappearances and declining media freedom.

In October, the European Parliament extended Pakistan’s GSP+ status until 2027, allowing duty-free exports on 66 percent of product tariff lines to the European market.

EU can withdraw the GSP status if a beneficiary country fails to meet the program’s strict criteria. This process of withdrawal typically involves a period of dialogue aimed at rectification, but can lead to suspension of benefits if issues are not adequately addressed, as seen in the case of Sri Lanka in 2010 over human rights concerns.

The European Parliament in April 2021 adopted a resolution urging a review of Pakistan’s GSP+ status due to an “alarming” rise in blasphemy allegations and increasing attacks on journalists and civil society.

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