ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday said for the first time one person – ostensibly referring to former prime minister Imran Khan – considered himself above the law and is defying every institution.

Talking to a delegation of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Shehbaz said Pakistan is passing through challenges and the coalition government is making every effort to improve the economy.

He said that after efforts of 11 months, the fear of default is over.

He said the previous government has backtracked from the terms and conditions it had agreed with the IMF when it realised in January-February that a constitutional and legal move was in the making against it and as a result, a new government can come to power.

The prime minister said while working out an agreement with the IMF, the government has to accept such conditions whose impact would be on the common man.

He said because of that fear it violated the IMF agreement and this was not a private agreement but an agreement of the Pakistan State with the IMF. He said loss of violation of the agreement was in front of everyone and the Fund wanted implementation of the conditions that were agreed to by the previous government and the Fund would review.

“We have to accept this demand and hopefully, the agreement would be completed and subsequently, it would be placed before the Fund’s Executive Board.” He said this is a coalition government and there was an impression that Shehbaz Sharif would be unable to run the coalition government and for the first time in history, the coalition government is so far and is operating in these circumstances. He said the credit goes to the coalition partners.

The prime minister said the government has taken decisions in a difficult time symbolic or practical to give impression, that it is moving towards austerity. After two and a half hours deliberations, the entire cabinet with one voice supported austerity and subsequently, a cabinet meeting headed by the finance minister was formed whose meetings have already been held. He said next week he would himself chair the meeting on the implementation of the austerity measures. He said he believes in leadership by setting a personal example. He said the federal government spent Rs100 billion for the flood victims through the Benazir Income Support Program and the NDMA with transparency for flood victims.

He said the donors’ conference was held in Geneva and announcements were made for flood victims and the government is trying to get those pledges materialised. After the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, in which millions of homes were destroyed and millions displaced, the people of Pakistan are trying their best to help them. He said the government is sending relief package for Turkey and Syria and Pakistan government and people are trying to fulfil their rights.

He said the timely holding of elections is a constitutional and legal requirement and in this connection, the federal government is fulfilling its duty.

For instance, it was decided by the previous government in 2021, the decision was taken by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) to re-conduct the census because some provinces and political parties had serious reservations over the previous census and work for new census has already been started and funds provided for this purpose.

He said still some provinces’ chief secretaries have reservations over the census and wanted their reservations to be addressed and he would hold a meeting with them.

He said KP has already given in writing to the ECP that there are serious threats of terrorism and a decision to this effect would be taken by the ECP.

He said as party president he has already instructed the candidates of the party to submit their nomination papers for Punjab and KP elections. He said this is for the first time in history that elections would be held in two provinces and its consequences only time would tell.

He said no political party can run away from elections and his party would participate in elections as per whatever the ECP decides. He said for the first time, one person is defying every institution and making his illness a pretext for not appearing in the court even though he has been attending rallies and carrying out other engagements.

He said Nawaz Sharif used to appear before the courts every day and the interior minister was implicated in a false case.

He said now the government has made a new policy regarding Toshakhana and now any gift of value up to $300 could be retained by paying the determined amount.

Reuters adds: Apprehensions of a default by Pakistan on debt obligations are “over now”, the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Wednesday, adding that a staff-level agreement with the International

Monetary Fund (IMF) “will be done soon”.

The cash-strapped South Asian nation is expecting to unlock a $1.1 billion bailout package from the IMF, which will be critical in helping it avoid defaulting on external debt obligations.