DAVOS: Prime Minister Imran Khan said that no country can flourish and grow economically without peace and stability in his keynote address at the World Economic Forum’s special session in Davos on Wednesday.
“When Soviet Union left Afghanistan, we were left with the militant groups and drugs coming in to the country … it introduced ‘Klashinkolf culture’ in the country,” he said.
He said the armed militias then became impediments to economic growth.
“My government decided that from now onwards, Pakistan would be a partner to peace … we will not become part of any other country’s conflict,” he remarked.
The prime minister said that Pakistan played its part in easing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran and also between Iran and the United States. “We also played our part for Afghan peace,” he added.
Commenting on the country’s economic situation, PM Imran said: “When my government came into power, we inherited the worst economic crisis in the history with highest current account deficit, reserves that would’ve lasted a month”.
He said that due to the strict measures taken by the government to revive the country’s crippling economy, people suffered. “I know that people are hurting,” he said while smiling sheepishly.
“But, we have gone through the toughest period … rupee was falling, it has now gained a bit in the last few months. Investment year to year has gone up by 200 per cent … stock market is up,” he said.
PM Imran said 2020 would be the year of Pakistan’s economic growth. “Pakistan has gone up in ease of doing business index,” he added.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the WEF, which runs until Thursday. The theme for this year’s gathering is ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World’.
At the three-day prestigious event, political leaders, business executives, heads of international organisations and civil society representatives from around the world are deliberating on contemporary economic, geopolitical, social and environmental issues.
When asked by Professor Klaus Schwab, the moderator, about escalating tensions between Iran and the United Sates, PM Imran said: “If there is conflict between Iran and the Western world it will be a disaster … it will cause poverty in the world , and who knows how long it may go on. In my opinion it would be insanity”.
“I spoke to President Trump yesterday and I told him it would be a disaster.
“I do not understand why countries go to resolve their differences through military conflicts. The moment you start a military conflict, you don’t know where it will finish. It has unintended consequences,” he said.
Deliberating at length about benefits of investing in Pakistan, Premier Imran said advantages of Pakistan include its youthful population, which have been neglected up till now. “Now we have started a programme of skill development,” he added.
PM Imran said Pakistan is also blessed with untapped mineral wealth, including gold and copper reserves.
“And it is strategically placed – on one side is China, one of the fastest growing markets and our second biggest neighbour is India – and the moment that Pakistan and India relations become normal and we start trading again, then we can imagine how strategic our position is between China and India.”
He admitted that governance has been one of the biggest reasons why the country has not filled its potential yet, saying: “This is my priority now, to work on our institutions to change that”.