LAHORE - Expressing solidarity with protesting traders, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif has accused the government of ‘making the nation slave to the International Monetary Fund’.

Traders went on a shutter-down strike on Saturday in protest against imposition of new taxes by the government.

Shehbaz said: “The successful strike materialised Prime Minister Imran Khan’s dream of nationwide lockdown.”

He said Imran has nothing to do with public welfare. “Only my elder brother (Nawaz Sharif) could protect national interests. He should be released without any delay,” Shehbaz said calling ex-PM ‘an innocent political prisoner’.

He went on to say: “He (Nawaz) is jailed for solving public problems. The former prime minister successfully met challenges of loadshedding, price hike and lawlessness. Nawaz put the country on economic growth track. He provided jobs to the people. He improved infrastructure.

Opposition Leader in NA says growth rate in PML-N rule was 5.8pc

The successful strike has materialised Imran dream of lockdown

Come out of Banigala palace and see closure of factories, markets and shops

“The growth rate during Nawaz government was 5.8 per cent that perturbed the enemies. Inflation rate was just 3 per cent. Revenue generation was also high.

Moreover, Chinese investment worth $60 billion was a big deal.”

Maryam lashes out at Imran

PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz took to the Twitter to lash out at the PTI government over traders’ protest.

Her tweet reads: “Traders went on a successful strike. Where are you the selected? Come out of Banigala palace and see closure of factories, markets and shops from Karachi to Peshawar. The country has been shut down for the first time since 1977.  The PTI government faced its first countrywide strike, staged by traders against the decision of documenting the commercial activities and imposition of more taxes.

Traders claimed their strike was successful as most major markets in many cities across the country remained closed on Saturday. The strike was staged at stores, shopping malls and wholesale commodity markets, as well as restaurants and grocers.

In many cities, produce vendors kept their shops closed, which residents said made it hard to get fresh fruits and vegetables. Small shopfronts were also closed in commercial districts.

The strongest participation was in Punjab. But even there, most of the smaller markets situated in different localities remained open. In the country’s commercial hub, Karachi, division among retailers made the strike less effective.

The government seemed to be defying the pressure as it did not contact the traders representatives for listening to them.

Many ruling party leaders and government high ups termed the strike a failure, and alleged that pro-opposition traders’ organizations were resorting to such steps to please their masters.