ISLAMABAD, Nov 21 (APP): Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal has stated that Pakistan has assumed new identity due to economic turnaround during the last three years under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.
The minister was speaking as Chief Guest at the CPEC Awareness Seminar organized by the World Congress of Overseas Pakistanis (WCOP) in London, a message received here from London on Monday said.
The minister said, “Today we live in the world of brands and every country is a brand. The way our people project Pakistan, becomes its identity and brand.”
“Before we seek development as our goal, we need to reset our thinking and mental model based on self belief and positive thinking about our country. With the economic turnaround and unprecedented foreign direct investment of $46 billion under CPEC, Pakistan has already assumed a new positive identity and brand in the eyes of the world. The international media that used to label Pakistan as the most dangerous country in the world, is now bullish on Pakistan and calling it the next emerging economy of Asia,” he added.
Giving economic overview of the country the minister said, “In the last three years, the economy has seen a steady growth from 2.5% in 2013 to 4.8% last year, which is the highest growth rate in the last eight years. Our foreign reserves with $24 billion are at the highest in the history of Pakistan. This economic take off has changed the perception of the world about Pakistan. The same Moody’s that downgraded the US, has upgraded the credit rating of Pakistan.”
Talking about the performance of the government, Ahsan Iqbal said, “When we came into power we had a manifesto of 4 Es—Economy, Energy, Extremism and Education. The government presented the Vision 2025 for the socio-economic development of Pakistan and has delivered on all the four key areas. As a result, the economy has taken off. Similarly, the government has significantly eradicated extremism and terrorism due to which peace has been restored in Pakistan, especially in Karachi.”
“Pakistan is seeing ever largest investment of $35 billion under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in energy sector which will not only meet our energy needs but also expedite GDP growth and create new job opportunities for our Youth,” he added.
The minister said, “Education is the fourth key priority of current government. Despite education being a provincial subject after the 18th Amendment, the federal government still wants to help provinces to improve the standard of education. For this purpose, a National Curriculum Council has been set up to upgrade the curriculum. Reform of Examination Boards and Teachers Training Programme are the other two initiatives of the federal government for complete overhaul of the education system of Pakistan to bring about creativity and innovation in our academic institutions.”
“Additionally, the federal government has increased allocation of funds for Higher Education Commission from Rs 100 billion to Rs 215 billion in last three years. Besides, every district will have a university campus in three years. During the US visit of the Prime Minister, Pakistan-US Knowledge Corridor initiative was launched and it was agreed that 10,000 Pakistani PhDs would be produced in leading US universities in next ten years that would help promote research and innovation in our universities,” he added.
Ahsan Iqbal spoke about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in detail and termed it a great opportunity for Pakistan.
He said, “The CPEC would turn Pakistan’s geo strategic location to its geo economic advantage. Within three years, the first convoy of goods has successfully travelled from China to Gwadar through Western Route that has made CPEC operational. All provinces of Pakistan as well as the entire region would benefit from CPEC. The energy projects, infrastructure projects and industrial zones along the Western and Eastern Routes would promote connectivity and bring about unprecedented economic growth.”
The minister urged the Pakistani community not to pay heed to the negative propaganda against the CPEC by detractors of Pakistan as CPEC is the real game changer for the country.
He also called upon the diaspora to take maximum advantage of CPEC by investing in Pakistan.
The minister thanked the WCOP for arranging the seminar and the community for attending in large numbers. He also responded to the question of the attendees.
In his address Dr Miftah Ismail, Minister of State, Board of Investment said that Pakistan was rich in natural resources like agriculture, minerals, coal, copper, gold and water, adding, similarly Pakistan was rich in human resource.
But despite natural and human resources Pakistan’s economic development could not take off in the past because the vital ingredient of economic management was missing, he added.
The Minister of State said the present government provided efficient economic management which turned around the economy and now the foreign investment has started to come into Pakistan.
Speaking on the occasion, Syed Ibne Abbas, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK said the narrative about Pakistan in the world was changing fast as the economy of Pakistan was growing and security situation has improved significantly.
This has happened due to the vision of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, he added.
He appreciated the initiative of the WCOP for holding the seminar on CPEC as it would create awareness about this vital project among the diaspora.
The High Commissioner invited the community to be part of the Pakistan’s 70th independence anniversary celebrations being organized by the High Commission.
Salamat Ali, a trade economist and PhD candidate at Nottingham University spoke on relevance of the CPEC to Pakistan and its diaspora.
He said CPEC would significantly reduce the cost of trade inside the borders of Pakistan through development of road and rail network. Similarly, when new trading blocks and alignments are forming in the world, the CPEC would connect Pakistan to major trading country of China, which would enhance Pakistan’s trade immensely, he added.
He said that there is great opportunity for diaspora in the CPEC as the British Pakistanis already have the necessary skills like language to become part of the international trading and business community.
Syed Qamar Raza, Chairman WCOP thanked the Ministers for speaking at the seminar and said it was very useful in terms of creating awareness about CPEC among Pakistani community.
Dr Sohail Chughtai, President WCOP gave an overview of the organization’s activities. Naveed Ahmad of WCOP also spoke on the CPEC.
Dr Arif Anees, a leadership and management expert, moderated the seminar.