Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that imagine a strategic location of Pakistan where China is on one side while India on the other side with access to energy on the western side.
Currently, relations between Islamabad and New Delhi are not so good, he said, adding that the moment their ties became normal and trade started, then one could imagine Pakistan’s strategic position in the region.
Speaking at the special session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, an exclusive ski resort in Switzerland, Imran Khan said that there will be access to the big market of Central Asian republics the moment there will be peace in Afghanistan.
He said that Pakistan is sitting on one of the most precious gold and copper resources along with rare mineral and gas reserves. “We have enough natural resources and if properly exploited the country could pay its foreign debts,” he said.
A PARTNER IN PEACE
He informed the gathering that the government is now developing those natural resources. He also said that agriculture is also one of the big sources of income and employment and the government is getting help from China in developing this key sector.
The prime minister said that Pakistan had tremendous resources, a young population, and strategic location. Now the government’s biggest challenge is how to improve the state institutions, to improve governance and to tap real potential, he said.
He said that Pakistan had suffered a lot by joining the US-led ‘war against terror’ and from now onward it would only be a partner in peace and not to become a part of any conflict of others. “We have become a player of peace,” he said with examples.
PAKISTAN MOVING IN RIGHT DIRECTION
“You cannot make your economy grow unless there are peace and stability,” he said. About the economic issues, he said that his government inherited the ‘worst’ economic crisis in the country’s history, the biggest fiscal deficit and balance of payment crisis, and it had to make very tough decisions.
Imran Khan said that he had faced public attitude in the last one year for taking tough decisions for economic stabilization. Now, he said that Pakistan is heading towards stabilization, the rupee had stabilized, the stock market had gone up, imports had been curtailed while exports witnessed some increase.
He said that Pakistan is now moving in the right direction. However, he said that still a lot of hard work had to be done. During the current year, he said that his government had planned to provide employment to the people and bring foreign investment in Pakistan.
INVESTMENT IN TOURISM
He said that about 60 percent of the young population is an advantage for Pakistan. He said that his government had started a skills development program for the youth, who are being encouraged to start their own businesses.
About an increase in foreign direct investment, the prime minister said that 2019 was the safest year in Pakistan since 9/11 when the security situation was deteriorated with Islamabad joining the ‘war on terror’ and there was no question of foreign investment coming in.
He said that the year 2019 was reflected in tourism, which doubled and that was the country’s real potential. Pakistan had a rich religious and scenic tourism, he said, adding that Sikhism, Buddhism, Gandhara civilization and mountain tourism were the country’s untouched assets. “Pakistan needs investment to exploit the true potential of tourism,” he said.
PAKISTAN STRATEGY DIALOGUE
Speaking at a moderated session, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that his government had set definite targets for growth of the economy through foreign investment and ease-of-doing-business as the country gained strength in the financial domain.
He said that his government is consciously planning to promote the growth of industries across the country. He used the interactive platform, attended by economists, businessmen and media persons from different countries, to highlight his vision about transforming Pakistan into an investment and tourism destination.
“The first year of our government was about gaining economic stability and now we want the economy to grow and expand,” he said, adding that the whole idea is to reverse anti-profit-making social mindset by providing incentives to industries.
FASTEST GROWING ECONOMY
He said that Pakistan had now attained position among the fastest growing economies in the sub-continent and mentioned Pakistan’s high ranking in the World Bank’s index of ‘ease-of-doing-business.’ He said that corrective measures by his government resulted in the surge of foreign investment by 200 percent.
In earlier decades, Imran Khan said that Pakistan’s participation in Afghan conflict and 9/11, had serious setbacks in the shape of societal damage, a weak economy and life loss. Bearing the brunt of these two wars, he said that his government had categorically decided not to join any other war.
“It is my firm belief that tourism can generate immense revenue and bring investment to strengthen the national economy,” he said, adding the country is declared the most exciting tourist destination by the British Backpackers Foundation.
He said that Pakistan was a cradle of world’s oldest and sacred civilizations including Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Sufism, which gave it an edge of diversity in religious tourism. He invited foreign investors to explore Pakistan’s rich potential in tourism, agriculture, and gold and copper mining.
To meet technological advancements of the outer world, he said that Pakistan is set to witness a revolution with the launch of the ‘Digital Pakistan’ program, aimed at digitization of governance and other services. He mentioned a former Google professional Tania Aidrus, who is leading the country’s digital transformation.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA COUNCIL
On sidelines of the World Economic Forum, Prime Minister Imran Khan told another moderated session that he had no concern over trade ties between New Delhi and Washington as India is a huge market. What concerned him is the way the Indian government is heading towards which would have dangerous sequences, he said.
Due to India’s policies, he said that the South Asian region could become a potential flashpoint and it is the time for the UN and the US that they must act. He also said that war is no solution to conflicts as the military actions in Afghanistan had given rise to terrorism, adversely affecting Pakistan.
Terming the Pakistan-US ties the decent ones in recent times, Imran Khan said that both the leadership had been on the same page and that cooperation is based upon common objectives. He said that Islamabad and Washington shared the common objective of bringing about lasting peace in Afghanistan through peace initiatives.
That transactional relationship had now turned into a proper relationship, he said and maintained that they are concentrating upon the rebuilding of their areas badly affected by terrorism. About steps for an economic turnaround, he said that they had strengthened the state institutions through accountability drive, drafted laws on money laundering, boosted exports and strengthened currency, thus putting the economy on the right track.
He said that they had inherited the biggest current account deficit, which was now cut down by 70 percent. He said that policies were introduced to increase the stagnant export volume and to compete with other countries. He said that their direction is right, but they have a lot of hard work to do.