WASHINGTON: Pakistans remarkable economic turnaround and its historic success against the menace of terrorism in the past three years is luring international businessmen which now see the country as an investment hub with rising opportunities, Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal said here on Saturday.
In an interview with APP, the Minister said that Pakistan has made a tremendous progress under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, and its success against terrorism and its economic progress have been duly acknowledged by the international community.
Three years ago, terrorists were holding the country hostage and the state was under siege, but today, by the Grace of Almighty Allah, terrorists are now under siege and on the run, the Minister said, adding that the number of terrorist incidents have fallen 10 fold in the past three years.
We have achieved a success with our own resources, and we have achieved a success which has no parallel in the world. Prof. Ahsan Iqbal expressed the strong resolve of the government to purge the society of every sign that promote any kind of hatred and violence.
He said that Pakistan is a country where all people regardless of their cast and creed have the right to live peacefully according to their religious faith.
He said that three years ago, international media had a negative view of the country. Three years after, the same media is now praising Pakistan which is among the fastest growing economy in the world.
Comparing the economic situation today to that of three years ago, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal said that the economic growth was stuck at 3 to 3.5 percent on average between 2008 and 2013.
I am happy to say that last year, we achieved 4.8 percent growth and we are expecting 5.5 percent growth in the current financial year. Next year, Inshallah, we will touch the 6 percent growth.
He also highlighted the historic gains in the foreign exchange reserve which has risen to $24 billion today from $8 billion three years ago. This is a record that a country has been able to increase its foreign exchange reserve in such a manner, he added.
The Minister recalled that when the government of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif took over after winning a landslide victory in the 2013 election, the country was facing its worst energy crisis and people were forced to live without electricity for 18 hours a day. Today, the power outages have reduced to 6-8 hours a day.
This is the kind of efforts that the present government is putting in for the progress of the country, he added. The Minister said that between 1947 and 2013, Pakistan only managed to produce 16,000 MW to 17,000 MW of electricity per day.
As a result of relentless efforts of the present government to deal with the energy crisis, the country will have 10,000 MW by 2018. Prof. Ahsan Iqbal said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a game-changer and will Pakistan a regional hub of trade.
Referring to huge investment under the CPEC, he said that as much as $35 billion is being spent alone on improving countrys energy sector. As a result of the huge economic turnaround; tremendous improvement in the security and the CPEC have changed Pakistans profile and international investors have now started to come to Pakistan in a big way, the Minister said.
He said that recently a Dutch company acquired Engro for $440 million which was the biggest acquisition by a foreign company in the countrys history. French auto giant Renault and a German truck-maker are coming to Pakistan to set up automobile factories. All investors are coming to Pakistan as they now see opportunities.
Now the time has come that we start taking pride in a rising Pakistan, the Minister said while adding that the overseas Pakistanis have an important role to play.
He said they are the countrys brand managers and should sell their countrys brand by highlighting its positive attributes and the facts. We will make Pakistan great.