Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday all economic indicators were showing positive trend and declared that Pakistan had now entered the phase of an emerging economy, as a number of top multinational companies had shown keen interest to invest in Pakistan.
Chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad, Khan expressed satisfaction over the vindication of Pakistan’s stance on the Afghanistan issue, stressed that for the first time the US recognised what the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) had been saying all along that there was no military solution to the war in the neighbouring country.
At the onset of the meeting, Khan defended his financial team and its role in bolstering the national economy despite serious challenges. In this regard, he particularly mentioned the role of the ministries of finance, commerce and planning for bringing in foreign investment to the country.
“Had the economic situation been really bad, there would have been no foreign investment to the country,” the prime minister said in his brief remarks, aired by the state-run television. “We are inviting renowned international companies to explore minerals, particularly oil and gas in offshore areas,” he added.
Referring to his recent meeting with US Secretary of State’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Khan said he was pleased to note that the US for the first time “recognised what the PTI has always been saying that there is no military solution to Afghanistan,” he added.
“Instead of the demand for ‘do more’, today they are seeking our cooperation in finding a peaceful solution to Afghanistan,” Khan said, adding that Pakistan had always called for dialogue and a negotiated peaceful settlement. “Pakistan’s role has been acknowledged. Pakistan would play its part in a mediated settlement, instead of fighting someone’s war.”
The prime minister reiterated his long personal commitment to the cause of peace in the region and welcomed President Trump’s letter and the US’s assurance to work with Pakistan on this shared objective. He added the government was also looking forward to playing its part in seeking a mediated settlement to the crisis in Yemen.
Referring to the reaction in India over the ground-breaking of Kartarpur corridor, Khan regretted that the “goodwill gesture by Pakistan” was being given a political tinge by India. “It was Pakistan’s obligation to allow access to people of all religions to their places of worship, be they the Sikhs, Buddhists or others,” he said.
The PM said Pakistan was in touch with the Saudi and Iranian leadership to bring peace to Yemen. He said during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, he discussed the Yemen issue with the Saudi leadership and received a very positive response. He added Iranian Foreign Minister Jawwad Zarif also paid a visit to Islamabad and discussed the modalities for Yemen peace process.
Later briefing the media about Cabinet decisions, Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar said the ministers approved the launch of Rs18 billion “National Poverty Graduation Programme” to improve the living standard of the poor.
Under this programme, the needy people would be provided technical equipment, instead of cash, to start their small businesses, Azhar said, adding that the deserving people would be selected from among the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) beneficiaries.
Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Media Iftikhkar Durrani said the cabinet approved the Economic Coordination Committee’s decision of exporting 1.1 million tonnes sugar. He added subsidy of Rs25.5 billion on gas to zero-rated industry in Punjab was also approved.
Durrani said a negative propaganda was being spread against the ongoing anti-encroachment drive. “The campaign is aimed at retrieving the state land from the land mafia. So far, the land recovered in Islamabad will be used for better purposes,” he added. He also said that an agreement against money laundering would be signed with Canada.