ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's main opposition party led by ousted premier Imran Khan on Monday rejected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's offer of holding a "grand dialogue" among all stakeholders to fix the cash-starved country's economic woes, saying the government was making "hilarious claims" to hide its failures.
Prime Minister Sharif on Sunday emphasised the need for initiating a dialogue over vital sectors of the economy to move ahead on the path of progress and prosperity.
Hours after the suggestion, the main opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by Khan said the offer for dialogue was made to hide the failures of the government.
PTI's Central Information Secretary Farrukh Habib said in a video statement that the government in its first 50 days has flooded the nation with inflation.
"Those who served as a curse to the poor people have laid the foundation of political and economic chaos in the country," said Habib.
He said the current government made "hilarious claims" that it was fixing the economy when it was burdening the people with increases in fuel and electricity prices.
"The main beneficiary of their grand dialogue will not be health, economy and education but Maqsood chaprasi (peon)," he said.
The PTI has made Maqsood a household name by alleging that he served as a peon in one of the companies of Prime Minister Sharif and that his bank account was used for money laundering.
Separately, PTI vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the media in Islamabad after a meeting of the party's core committee that the "grand dialogue" cannot be held with those "who have been imposed on the country".
Qureshi, who was foreign minister in Khan's cabinet, said they would hold talks only on conducting [early] polls.
Earlier, according to the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan, Prime Minister Sharif on Sunday highlighted the need to start a dialogue for the economy while addressing the inauguration ceremony of Indus Hospital in Lahore.
He said a "consensus should be developed over the national economy in such a manner that it should not be disrupted with a change of government".
He said there were certain sectors like IT and industrialisation through which the country could move ahead.
The prime minister underlined that those stakeholders should think "above themselves and their personal likes and dislikes" and accord top priority to the progress and prosperity of the nation.
Sharif said no one should have permission to do politics on health and agriculture.
"You need to see the bigger picture, you will have to kill your ego for the nation's prosperity," he said.
Sharif said that a "country cannot survive on debt".
Comparing Pakistan's export volume with Bangladesh, he said the country's annual exports have touched USD 40 billion-mark while Pakistan's was USD 27-28 billion annually.
Pakistan has faced growing economic challenges, with high inflation, sliding forex reserves, a widening current account deficit and a depreciating currency.
The cash-strapped country is facing an uncertain economic situation due to a delay in the revival of a stalled multibillion-dollar International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.
Saudi Arabia has agreed to provide Pakistan with a "sizeable package" of around USD 8 billion to help the country revive its ailing economy.
Saudi Arabia provided USD 3 billion deposits to the State Bank of Pakistan in December 2021 while the Saudi oil facility was operationalised from March 2022, providing Islamabad with USD 100 million to procure oil.
Chinese banks have agreed to refinance Pakistan with USD 2.3 billion worth of funds in a massive relief for the country to help it bolster its depleting foreign exchange reserves.