ISLAMABAD - Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi yesterday took a broadside at the government’s economic policy, saying that the country had entered into a state of ‘stagflation’ and warning that the crumbling economy was turning into a major national security problem.

The economy is stagnating with national security and foreign policy subduing before the economy while the national self-determination is at stake, he said at a blistering press conference.

The “experiment of selected government has failed”, said the leader of the opposition PML-N. “I hope the National Security Committee is assessing the situation,” he said, referring to the apex national body that also includes the top military leadership.

“Pemra has silenced the media over the reference against judges, which is an attack on freedom of judiciary. We will not let anyone usurp the rights of the judiciary,” the former premier vowed.

The two major opposition parties – the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party – are going to attend an all-party conference of opposition parties after Eid, with an agenda of charting a plan to dethrone ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Abbasi’s press conference was therefore being seen as an open warning to the army not to back the PTI government when they come out to take it down. The opposition alleges the PTI was helped take the driving seat by the army, and now that they are convinced of its downfall, they want the army to withdraw its support to make their job easier.

The PML-N leader however gave a different reason for his press conference. “We want to make it clear where did economy stand on May 31, 2018 [the last day of their government], and where it stands on the same date this year.”

Abbasi said the National Assembly was being made redundant, compelling the party to bring the facts to fore through a press conference. “If the need arises, we will topple the government in the larger interest of the country,” he said, dropping another hint at the real intention of his media talk.

The opposition leader pointed out that in the past 10 months rupee had devalued by 27 percent, electricity tariffs increased by 20 percent, gas tariffs jacked up by 153 percent, LNG price hiked by almost 8 percent, petrol price by Rs23 and diesel by Rs24. Prices of sugar, flour, chicken, meat, lentils and that of all the other grocery items have also gone up, he added.

A decrease of Rs400 to Rs500 billion in revenue was expected, said the PML-N leader, adding that 50 percent of the total revenue was generated through imports. In the current fiscal year, the tax revenue would remain around Rs4,000 billion, running expenditures from previous years were Rs5,800 billion while in 2019, these would go up to Rs7,000 billion.

“PSDP was slashed by 30 percent, internal debts have reached up to Rs28,600 billion, external debt has reached to $80 billion, the growth rate has reduced to three percent, 1,651 billion rupees less than the previous year in the development sector,” he added.

“The developmental expenditure has decreased by Rs320 billion. When we left the government, the total debt was Rs25,000 billion, which has gone beyond Rs28,000 billion and would reach to Rs30,000 billion by the end of the current fiscal year,” Abbasi said.

Talking about the impact of worsening economy on the national security, he said, “Last year, the GDP was $313 billion, which has reduced to $280 billion. National security and foreign policy have subdued before economy… nation’s right to self-determination is at stake.”

Abbasi took a dig at the PTI government by saying that, “the country’s economy cannot be run by selling cars and buffaloes.”