President Trump can help resolve Pakistan-India animosity

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WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (APP): US President Trump, with his reputation as a “dealmaker” can help bring an end to the 70-year old animosity between Pakistan and India, Dr. Ishrat Hussain, a leading economist and former governor of the State Bank, said here.
In an interview to APP, Dr. Hussain said that Pakistanis believe that the US has not played a major role in trying to normalize relations between Pakistan and India.
“Mr Trump is considered somebody who means business, and who is a dealmaker. We think that if he puts himself to this task and starts bringing India and Pakistan together, the 70-year-old problem which we have with India will come to a solution,” he said.
The former governor said that there was a great hope among Pakistanis that Mr. Trump will use his office in order to bring an end to the problem between Pakistan and India, he added.
Replying to a question, the former State Bank governor stated that the government was trying to boost growth and take it to the level of 6% and 6.5%. He said given the continuity and consistency of economic policies, this was certainly doable. “The direction is very clear and there are no reverse gears which create uncertainty and unpredictability for investors.”
Dr. Hussain said that in middle of 2017, MSCI (Morgan Stanley Capital International) will add Pakistan to its Emerging Market Index, that will also give a great boost to foreign investments and Pakistan’s economy. In 1990’s Pakistan was one of the top ten performing emerging markets, ahead of India, Bangladesh and Vietnam, he added
Meanwhile, in an interview posted on the website of The emerge85 Lab, an initiative between the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and Abu-Dhabi-based the Delman Institute, Dr. Ishrat Hussain stated that there was a huge middle class in Pakistan which has purchasing power and was contributing to pushing growth momentum.
He said that the demand coming from the middle class was adding to the productive capacity. “In cement, steel, automobiles, you name it, all these industries are in the process of expanding their production”.
All the fast-moving consumer goods manufacturing firms like Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Nestle are making 25 to 26 percent rate of return on their investment, in dollar terms, which is the highest they can fetch. “Those who were already there, or went in, are reaping huge dividends,” Dr. Hussain added.
To a question on Pakistan-India trade ties, Dr. Hussain said that if the relations are normalized, the two nuclear-armed nations will have very decent, normal, neighborly relations which will be good for world peace.
Responding to a question, Dr. Hussain said that existing trade volume between the two countries is between $2 to $3 billion, which has the potential to rise upto $12 billion if all the trade barriers are removed between the two South Asian neighbors. “It is a win-win situation for both countries”.
Dr. Hussain, to a question, said security situation was one of the major problems and a stumbling block as far as Pakistan’s economic growth was concerned. But, as a result of successful military operations in the tribal areas and in Karachi, the situation has now improved.
“That gives satisfaction to businessmen that the security situation has improved and now we can do business. Otherwise, foreigners would not come to Pakistan because they were scared their lives were in danger,” he added.
“That has changed. Now, hotels are full. Emirates has five daily flights between Dubai and Karachi that are full, so things are changing,” he added.
He praised the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and said that China has made billions of dollars of investment under CPEC.
“China has pledged $35bn for our electricity and energy sector. So, in three years’ time we would be adding 10,000 MW which is a 50% increase in the existing capacity,” he said.
“Our exporters were unable to deliver goods to their markets because of the energy shortages. They will now be able to go back to the international markets and capture their lost share. That will boost the economy itself,” the former State Bank governor stated.
“CPEC won’t be limited only to Punjab and Sindh: Two provinces, Balochistan, which is next to Iran and Afghanistan, and the northwest frontier province which is Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, will get most of the benefits out of this investment,” he added.