Lahore/London: Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said that he is "excited" to return to his country on October 21, ending a four-year "self-imposed exile" and to lead his party in the upcoming elections.
Addressing an online meeting of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) ticket holders from London on Monday, the PML-N supreme leader also said that the price of petrol, which is currently hovering around Rs 330 per litre, would have been Rs 1,000 per litre had the coalition government led by PML-N not "saved" the country from default, Dawn News reported.
Amid double-digit inflation, Pakistan's caretaker government last week effected yet another hike in the prices of petrol and diesel taking them to a historic high -- over Rs 330 per litre -- prompting immediate protests and a legal challenge too.
The fuel price hike comes on the heels of a 27.4 per cent increase in the rate of inflation in August, putting an unbearable burden on the masses, as petrol is used by all private and public service vehicles.
Petrol and diesel have become costlier by 20 per cent since the caretaker government took over in August.
Sharif told senior PML-N leaders, including Maryam Nawaz, Hamza Shehbaz, Ahsan Iqbal, Pervaiz Rashid, Khurram Dastgir, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Azma Bokhari and Rana Sanaullah, that he was "excited and happy" to return to the country.
Lashing out at the military and judicial establishment of 2017, the PML-N supremo said the people should know who the real culprits for their agony were.
“The man (Nawaz) who rid the country of power load shedding was sent home by four judges,” Sharif, 73, said in his emotional speech, adding that the former army chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa and ex-Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief General (retd) Faiz Hamid were behind his ouster.
"(Former) chief justices Saqib Nisar and Asif Saeed Khosa were tools of [the former army chief and his spy chief]. Their crime is bigger than a murder offence. Giving them pardons will be an injustice to the nation. They don’t deserve pardon,” Sharif said, vowing to hold them accountable.
“These ‘characters’ who unleashed economic misery on the people of Pakistan will have to face accountability,” the PML-N supreme leader pledged.
Defending the PML-N decision to form the 16-month government after sending Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan home through a no-confidence motion in April last year, Sharif claimed that had the PML-N-led Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) not saved the country from default, per litre petrol price would have been Rs 1,000.
“We put at risk our political capital to save the country from default. In fact, we paid the price of saving Pakistan from default. However, I can give in writing that in elections we will win,” Sharif claimed, recalling that in 2017, when he was in power, it was not the case.
He said cheap flour, ghee and sugar were available then while the poor today were receiving heavy electricity bills and did not know how to pay them.
In July, the IMF transferred USD 1.2 billion to cash-strapped Pakistan, part of the USD 3 billion bailout programme for nine months to support the government’s efforts to stabilise the country's ailing economy.
Pakistan’s economy has been in a free fall mode for the last many years, bringing untold pressure on the poor masses in the form of unchecked inflation.