LAHORE: Federal Minister for Interior, Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal says due to effective government measures against terrorism peace has returned to the country.
He was addressing Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lahore Saturday. He said Pakistan was the worst victim of terrorism in 2013 and as most of the businessmen in Karachi were considering relocating their businesses to Punjab but now Karachi is back to normalcy.
The Interior Minister said today’s Pakistan economic indicators are moving in positive trajectory, huge foreign and local investment is pouring into the country.
Meanwhile, talking to newsmen after inaugurating the first-ever National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Facilitation Desk for the business community in Lahore, the Interior Minister said general election 2018 and senate elections will be held on time this year. He ruled out holding of general election before completion of constitutional term of the incumbent assemblies. Responding to journalists’ queries, he said the Senate election would also be held on time.
The minister said that general election could not be held before July 2018, as the new voter lists and new delimitation of electoral constituencies were yet to be completed. The elements spreading rumours about early holding of general election were, in fact, conspiring against democracy in the country. All such claims were aimed at formation of a long-time caretaker government in the country, he added.
However, these elements would face sheer disappointment in the next general election as the people would support the agenda of economic development, he said adding that there was dire need to get ready for economic revival instead of indulging in sit-ins and negative politics.
To a question, he said that Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) President Nawaz Sharif had already nominated Shehbaz Sharif as the candidate for Prime Minister’s office in the next general election and there should not be any ambiguity in this regard. To another question, he said that ‘on-arrival visa policy’ had existed even before 2013, but it was not clear earlier. However, the incumbent government had ensured transparency in its implementation. The business community and tourists at large would be facilitated under this policy, he said and made it clear that security matters in this regard would not be compromised at any cost.
Earlier, addressing the businessmen, Ahsan Iqbal said that economic health of the country was very weak before 2013, as Pakistan had, at that time, been considered the most dangerous country of the world due to presence of terrorists and deteriorating law and order situation. The industrial activity had badly been affected due to power shortage, while country’s economic growth had become stagnant at mere three per cent annually.
Ahsan Iqbal said that the PML-N government targeted four areas including energy, extremism, economy and education and achieved considerable success in all these areas. He said the World Economic Forum has declared Pakistan better than India as an emerging economy. He said that GDP growth reached 5.3 per cent in the previous year and it was expected to touch six per cent mark by the year-end.
The federal minister said that the incumbent government had also added up to 11,000-MW of electricity to the national grid, while investment in infrastructural development has reached Rs 413 billion. Lahore-to-Karachi motorways were being completed at a fast pace, he added.
Ahsan Iqbal said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project would change the destiny of Pakistan, as the two countries were taking ahead the project to its next stages successfully. Today, the world is eying Pakistan as an ideal country for investment, he added. In his welcome address, LCCI President Malik Tahir Javaid said that governance and institutional quality had affected country’s progress over the years. He said that CPEC had changed geo-political situation in the region due to which new geo-political pressures were developing on Pakistan.
As far as completion of CPEC was concerned, he said that governments of Pakistan and China had to engage private sectors of both countries to create a win-win situation for all.
Malik said, “We must develop a comprehensive approach with the ownership of all stakeholders to succeed in implementation. The proactive approach adopted by Chinese businessmen gives this impression that they are taking CPEC much more seriously than us. “The government needs to give right type of incentives to transform this scenario where both Chinese and Pakistani businessmen have level playing field and fair opportunities to grow.”
On this occasion, Lahore Chamber’s Senior Vice President Khawar Rashid and Vice President Zeshan Khalil also assured the federal minister of the best cooperation from the business community.