LAHORE, Sep 13 (APP): Saving country from imminent bankruptcy, re-negotiating IMF’s tough conditionalities, averting being black-listed on the FATF, neutralising threats on borders besides improving country’s credibility and image internationally are major achievements of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government during the past two years.
This was stated by Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar while relating two-year performance of the PTI government during an interview with APP, here on Sunday. He said that almost all economic experts had expressed no hope of avoiding bankruptcy as the government was facing gigantic financial issues.
However, the government braved all difficulties, accepted challenges head-on and emerged successful through coordinated efforts and support of the international friends.
Governor Ch Sarwar, responding to a question, said the government was also successful in reducing current account deficit to the minimum, strengthening Pakistan stock exchange market, and taming the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
On the economic front, he said debt-servicing was the biggest challenge but the government, due to its transparent economic strategies and accountability drive, was supported by the friendly countries to stay afloat.
“Pakistan’s current account deficit was $20 billion, but the PTI government cut it down to mere $3 billion,” he responded, adding that “ours is one of the few stock markets of the world which remained stable during the novel coronavirus pandemic”.
He said that in a first in the banking history of the country, a mortgage policy was framed which provided loans at 5 per cent to build homes while the interest rate was pulled down to mere 7 per cent from 13.25 per cent to boost economic activity and provide relief to masses.
About successfully tackling the challenge of COVID-19 pandemic, Sarwar said that after Allah’s blessings, it was Prime Minister Imran Khan’s far-sightedness as he understood the health and economic challenges, posed by the pandemic, adding that a complete lockdown could have economic repercussions, but the smart lockdown won the government plaudits.
The success in tackling the pandemic he attributed to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), National Command Operation Centre (NCOC), health departments, philanthropists and medical professionals.
About winning the international support, the governor, with vast political experience for almost three decades as a member of British Parliament and British citizen – a title he relinquished in July 2013, said: “The world is a global village which must be engaged and I always engage with politicians of the other countries with ultimate benefits to the country.”
He said only GSP plus status has earned the country more than $20 billion in revenue over the past seven years.
He said his international relations had helped him win Pakistan GSP plus status in 2013 while his diplomatic and political acquaintance will win the case for Pakistan on the FATF forum as well and Pakistan will be cleared from the grey list.
About Pakistani diaposra in the United States (US), Sarwar said “I always motivate Pakistani diaspora in the US to take part in active politics as a few members in the Congress and Senate could make a case for them and Pakistan”.
He eulogised Pakistani-British politicians, who have served the cause of the country well.
He said it was his political identity in the UK which helped him win aid of up to $500 million for Pakistan which was mere $20 million when he started politics.
“International relationships matter a lot in today’s world and our politicians need to foster good relations with foreign colleagues as these help us depict Pakistan’s liberal image, and raise the Kashmir issue in a better way,” he added.
On Kashmir and exposing India’s extremist agenda, the governor said that Kashmiris were victims of the worst state terrorism and this is where the role of international community starts as a moral responsibility, adding that he held webinars during the lockdown to keep the world abreast of the situation.
“We must reach out to the international community and make them understand that India stands in violation of international commitments and statutes by not holding a plebiscite – a solemn pledge made at the floor of the United Nations (UN),” he stressed.
about the government efforts to raise status of minorities, he said Pakistan protected the minority rights of the Sikhs despite being on the verge of a war with India, adding that Kartarpur Corridor was a vivid proof of the government preference to the cause of minorities.
He said various welfare projects have been introduced by the government to see the minorities flourish in Punjab.
“I claim, in the light of my 37 years experience as a parliamentarian, that work undertaken on interfaith harmony in Pakistan is unparalleled to any other part of the globe,” he responded.
about the initiatives taken by the Punjab government for women and children, Ch Sarwar said that throughout his career, he had worked for equality of rights as no society could prosper until women are granted rights on a par with men.
He said the government was determined to empowering women in Punjab.
About the south Punjab province, the Governor said that the opposition always raised empty slogans on the issue and when the PTI started practical work on the south Punjab province, political parties like the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) started creating hurdles in the process by claiming that Multan and Bahawalpur should be made provinces.
About the question of bill in the assembly, Sarwar said the PTI government should table the south Punjab province bill in the assembly despite lacking two-thirds majority in the parliament, adding that the opposition parties would be exposed if the bill was rejected in the parliament.
On government’s efforts to help overseas Pakistanis, he said it was his initiative that the Overseas Pakistanis Commission (OPC) was established, adding that the issues of the expatriate are being solved on preferential basis today.
Hailing the overseas Pakistanis, he said the country owed a great deal to these patriotic Pakistanis who have been residing on foreign lands and playing a positive role in country’s progress. “Overseas Pakistanis, in July 2020 only, sent $2.5 billion in foreign exchange,” Sarwar said.
About government’s failures during two years, he said unfortunately the government had not succeeded in enforcing true justice system so far, adding that our police, courts and other departments failed to administer justice.
He said the PTI government, under Prime Minister Imran Khan, would continue to achieve this cherished ideal in the coming years.
On political allies, Governor Ch Mohammad Sarwar said the allies see eye to eye with the government and are on the same page, adding that grievances are always there among members of a family and these are resolved amicably.
The governor, in response to a query, said it is to the credit of the PTI government that Pakistan is known as a peace-loving country today, and its leadership is respected for its neutrality and transparency.