Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday rejected the opposition’s claim that the relief package announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan a day earlier was an attempt to woo voters ahead of the 2023 general elections, insisting that the move was a part of the government’s strategy to roll out relief measures for different segments in phases.
Chaudhry passed these remarks during a media talk in Lahore today when asked to comment on the opposition terming the prime minister’s package as an “election stunt”.
The premier had on Monday stunned his critics when he announced a “relief package” for the inflation-hit citizens of Pakistan, reducing the prices of petrol and diesel by Rs10 per litre and electricity by Rs5 per unit with a pledge that they would not be increased until the next federal budget.
Responding to a query during an interaction with the media today, Chaudhry clarified that the relief package would not be financed through any loan. “We just made adjustments to our existing budget to facilitate our middle class. Previously, we had given targeted subsidies to extremely poor segment.”
The minister said the affluent segment will also contribute to the relief package, adding that the Finance Ministry will hold a press conference, detailing financial adjustments made to the current budget to provide relief to the public.
When asked whether the government was feeling the heat of the PPP’s ongoing long march, Chaudhry said Bilawal must go through the “videos of previous long marches held by (late) Benazir Bhutto to learn how such rallies are conducted”.
He said the reality of such protests would become clear in three months. “We first want them to get tired by holding this march, then we will make our next move,” he told journalists.
To another question about PTI’s ties with its allies in the government, the minister said the prime minister was in close contact with PML-Q’s Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervez Elahi.
“We will soon meet PML-Q and MQM,” he said, claiming that “some friends” from the PML-N and the PPP friends who were fed up with their party leadership had also contacted the PTI.
Earlier, he recounted the challenges faced by the incumbent government, including Covid-19, Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, and global inflation faced by the PTI government after it took power.