Can’t talk with an egotist who tried to damage Pakistan’s reputation: PM Shehbaz

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday said that the apology tendered by a British tabloid Daily Mail over a fabricated story of corruption and embezzlement from earthquake relief funds has proved that all allegations leveled against him by leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were not only baseless but mala fide.

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He said this while addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Monday along with federal cabinet members.

The prime minister said when the article was published in 2019, PTI’s ministers were jubilant about the publication of the article and started leveling baseless allegations against him and his family.

“And despite it being a Sunday, Department for International Development (DFID) issued a clarification that nothing of the sort happened,” he said, adding, “It came to my knowledge that DFID’s clarification was delayed by six hours on Imran’s insistence because they wanted to slander me first.”

He said the true impact of the article was that Pakistan was globally defamed, and a message was sent to the global community that they should not send donations to the country – its poor, destitute and disaster-hit be damned.

Then-home secretary Priti Patel’s version was also included in Daily Mail’s article that called for an investigation into the matter, he said.

Subsequently, he announced to move a UK court over the story.

“Fast forward three years, they were granted several adjournments and I received an unconditional apology from Daily Mail,” the prime minister said.

“This isn’t just an apology to me personally, this is an apology to the 220 million people of Pakistan and the mothers and daughters who were affected in the floods,” the premier noted.

The prime minister said this malicious campaign also damaged Pakistan’s international standing as mistrust was created regarding any funding for our country.

He said Daily Mail’s article had claimed that around 600 million pounds given by DFID to Punjab from 2008 to 2018 was laundered by Shehbaz Sharif and his children.

Contrary to the claims, the money was used transparently.

He added that after he sent a legal notice to the paper, it remained in litigation for three years but finally, this episode ended in an unconditional apology.

Shehbaz Sharif added that PTI’s four-yea-tenure was a period of political victimization.

He said the PML-N-led coalition has kept national interest above political interest and saved the country from default.

He said they tried to give subsidies to poor people and the Rs1.8 trillion Kissan Package was an example of that.

He added that the government is tirelessly working to rehabilitate the flood-affected people which is a big challenge.

He rejected reports that the country has defaulted.


Asked about whether he was willing to undertake a dialogue with the opposition, Shehbaz said that in politics dialogue is everything and that they would always engage in dialogues.

However, he reminded that they cannot talk with an egotist who tried to do everything to discredit the country and make it difficult for the country to seek support from the global community.

He added that Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar met with President Dr Arif Alvi for backdoor talks with his knowledge and permission.

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