ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of the United States to Pakistan Donald Blome called on Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif here on Friday and discussed the bilateral ties. The prime minister congratulated the ambassador on his presentation of credentials and expressed the hope that he would devote his efforts to deepening and enhancing bilateral ties between the US and Pakistan.
In this context, the prime minister highlighted the historic, longstanding ties between the two countries and underscored Pakistan’s desire to further develop that relationship on the basis of mutual respect, trust, and interest. Recalling the depth and breadth of Pakistan-US relationship, the prime minister underscored that various dialogues established between Pakistan and the US had been playing a critical role in strengthening their bilateral ties in the areas of trade, investment, IT (information technology), climate change, health, and energy.
He emphasized that given the country’s economic and demographic potential, US companies needed to be encouraged by the Development Finance Corporation of the US to invest in Pakistan’s large market. The prime minister also stressed the need to have the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Ministerial Meeting take place later this year, besides holding of the Business Opportunities Conference.
This year marked the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Pakistan and the United States. The prime minister hoped that both countries would celebrate the historic occasion in a befitting manner, which would further deepen bilateral and people-to-people ties. He also stressed the need to have more exchanges at high-level between the two countries.
Ambassador Blome thanked Pakistan for its prompt and effective assistance in facilitating evacuation from Afghanistan. In this context, the prime minister emphasized that the deepening of cooperation between Pakistan and the United States would promote peace and stability in Afghanistan and contribute to averting the humanitarian crisis in that country, which had been further aggravated by the recent earthquake. While highlighting the rising wave of Islamophobia in India, he condemned the sacrilegious remarks by the two BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) officials about the revered personality of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) that had deeply hurt the sentiments of Muslims.
The prime minister also underlined that India was committing grave violations of human rights in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). While reiterating Pakistan’s commitment towards promotion of peace in the region, he stressed the importance of peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. In this context, he called upon the international community to discharge its moral and normative obligations, while also calling upon India to adhere to the UN resolutions.
The prime minister also conveyed his sincere good wishes to the people and Government of the United States on their 246th Independence Day. Ambassador Blome thanked the prime minister for receiving him and reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to further strengthen and reinforce Pakistan-US ties.
PM directs mechanism to reduce Metro Bus fares for public relief: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Friday directed the authorities concerned to introduce a coordinated mechanism for reduction in the fares of Metro Bus Service to provide relief to the masses. The prime minister, chairing a meeting to review progress on Orange, Blue and Green Line Bus services in the federal capital, called for completion of landscaping of Orange Line Metro Bus Service from Faiz Ahmed Faiz Terminal to the Islamabad Airport within seven days.
The prime minister was also apprised of the progress on the Bhara Kahu Bypass project. The prime minister directed to ensure the preservation of forests during the execution of the project. He said the work on the Bypass should be launched at the earliest by awarding the contract to top companies through a transparent bidding.
He said through this project, it was essential to address the traffic issues faced by the people of Bhara Kahu which would also facilitate the travellers to and from Murree. The meeting was told that 29-kilometer Orange Line Bus Service had been connected with Faiz Ahmed Faiz Terminal instead of NHA Station which had increased the number of passengers from 2000 to 3000 during peak hours and 18,000 a day.
The 20-kilometer Blue Line from Koral to PIMS was also ready for inauguration. Comprising 13 stations, the route would facilitate the people living along the Islamabad Expressway. It was told that the planned 15.5 kilometer Greenline Bus Service from Bhara Kahu to PIMS would facilitate the people of Bhara Kahu as well as the travelers of Murree.
Moreover, the travelers coming from Airport through Orange Line would also be able to benefit from the service to reach Murree. It was also told that the Rawal Chowk Flyover would be completed by July 31, on the prime minister’s directive. Work on the rehabilitation and widening of the Islamabad Expressway would also be initiated soon. The prime minister instructed for completion of the said projects within the stipulated time frame. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Advisor to PM Ahad Cheema, Pakistan Muslim League-N leaders Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Hanif Abbasi and Anjum Aqeel Khan, Capital Development Authority chairman and senior officers attended the meeting.
PM firm to overcome loadshedding by restoring halted power generation projects: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday vowed to overcome the crisis of power generation in the country by restoring the halted projects. Chairing a meeting to review measures to end power outages, he said ending loadshedding was the responsibility of the coalition government despite the inherited baggage of crisis from the previous government.
PM Sharif said the government was focused on taking effective measures to ensure an uninterrupted supply of electricity to consumers. He said the government was cognizant of the problems faced by the people during high mercury levels, adding that every effort would be made to address the genuine challenges. He mentioned that to resolve the problem, the government banned the import of machinery for raw materials and avoided the purchase of expensive gas. The prime minister pointed out that the lack of maintenance of power plants during the tenure of the previous government resulted in power shortage.
He said quashing the transparent and cheap deal with Qatar for the supply of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) at a 13 percent rate in a period of 15 years was big negligence on part of the previous government. Also, the prime minister said, despite commitment, the revolving account was not opened with China. He also regretted that during the last four years, the opportunity to buy cheap gas was deliberately missed. A power plant of 1250 megawatt in Haveli Bahadur Shah is closed due to apathy of the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, he added. He said the situation led to financial challenges and slowed down the pace of development in the country.
PM chairs meeting on hitting $15 bln target for IT exports: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday chaired a meeting on increasing the potential of Information Technology (IT) related exports from the $2.5 billion to $15 billion. In the attended by Junaid Qureshi, President of Silicone Valley, California – an organization of Pakistani businessmen, the prime minister expressed satisfaction over the volume of IT exports and stressed the need to further boost it.
The meeting highlighted the role of Pakistani expatriates residing in the Silicone Valley and their contribution to the motherland. PM Sharif lauded the efforts of Junaid Qureshi and urged him to promote Pakistan’s IT sector abroad. Junaid Qureshi apprised the prime minister of the international campaign #TechDestinationPakistan and emphasized that the government’s marketing outreach was significant in an increase of IT exports.
He also invited PM Sharif to visit the Silicone Valley and meet leaders of renowned tech companies on the sidelines of his upcoming visit to New York in September. The meeting discussed several proposals to strengthen IT exports in the country. The need for micro degree programs and short course certificates also came under discussion for inducting youth into the IT industry.
Cells for talented youth to be set up at ministries for innovative policy-making ideas: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said the government would set up special cells for talented youth at all ministries to encourage them work on their innovative ideas for national policy-making.
Addressing at the launch of Innovation Hub, he said the step aimed at encouraging the youth to involve in national development. Being set under the Prime Minister’s vision, the Innovation Hub will play an important role in harmonizing policy making with the needs of the country by incorporating the views of all stakeholders particularly country’s talented youth and manpower.
PM Sharif said the innovative project would receive valuable feedback from stakeholders to help the government improve and refine its national policies. He said modern education and technology had immense significance in today’s world, and urged the experts, intellectuals and youth to connect with the government through their suggestions.
He stressed the importance of research work to explore the potential of various subjects for the benefit of general public.The prime minister said he would personally promote the Innovation Hub which would act as an effective platform for youth to excel. PM Sharif said the brilliant ideas of youth would be incorporated in policy-making so as to formulate them in a more practical way. Head of PM’s Strategic Reforms Salman Sufi said the main objective of establishing Innovation Hub under the vision of PM Shehbaz Sharif was “putting the public back in public policy”.
Besides himself, he said, the panel of experts comprising Faisal Bari, Mosharraf Zaidi, Shahrukh Wani and Ayesha Raza Farooq would finalize the ideas. He said the selected proposals would be presented to the prime minister, which would later become part of the national policy. This would be the first time that the general public would be involved in national policy-making, he added. The youth present on the occasion gave their input about women development, tourism and hotel management, technology, and the need for improvement in educational curriculum.