ISLAMABAD: Minister for Defence Khurram Dastgir Monday said Pakistan had re-emerged as a peaceful country that had a growing economy and expanding industry made possible after vanquishing of energy shortages.
Speaking at an International Conference on News Agencies organized by Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), the minister said Pakistan had emerged in the past four years from an extremely difficult period of terrorism and energy shortages. When the current government resumed its tenure in 2013, it found Pakistan drowning in blood and darkness, he said, adding moreover, it was a difficult job to maintain the country’s precious democracy.
Dastgir, who is also Minister Incharge for Foreign Affairs, saluted the courage of Pakistani journalists who continued working in very difficult circumstances in the recent years and exercised the freedom of speech and expression at a time when Pakistan was suffering from terrorism and violent extremism.
Pakistan had consolidated its democracy and on May 31, the second consecutive elected government would complete its term, he added.
He said Pakistan today had a lot of good news as peace had been restored across the country from Chitral to Karachi after boldly confronting the menaces of extremism and terrorism based on ethnicity, criminal mafias and misinterpretation of religion.
The minister said it was a matter of great satisfaction that the province of Balochistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Karachi were peaceful.
He said Pakistan suffered from the greatest trauma as 6,000 of its army officers and soldiers were martyred and 18,000 civilians lost their lives. “We suffered the greatest trauma. We endured and came through that trauma.”
He said in the years 2012-13, on average six terrorist incidents occurred daily. “The current government with its hard work and focused effort, and with the help and assistance of armed forces made the impossible possible.”
The minister said after a difficult period, the country’s economy was growing again. It grew by 5.3 percent previous year and about 6 percent this year, and was expected to grow by more than six percent next year. The country had ended energy shortages by utilizing its own resources.
“This nation has been severely tested on all fronts. We have simultaneously battled through various crises,” he added.
Dastgir said during the last five years Pakistan had started to connect with the world again. “We are receiving foreign visitors and tourists. Pakistan is now being diagonally connected from Gwadar to the south west province of China, and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will be the backbone of industrial expansion and will create jobs for many decades to come.”
He told the foreign delegates that Pakistanis were resilient beyond imagination. “I am proud to see that my fellow countrymen have faith in their country. We are a stable country now as the tide has turned. I am confident that with the help from the international partners, we will continue to achieve further successes.”
Talking about transformation of the media after the advent of social media, the minister said there was a time when the traditional media was dominant and now the social media had been slowly gobbling it.
“We have to guard against fake news as the media is in the relentless pursuit of breaking news. Faith of public in the news reporting by media has eroded. We are consumed with news coming from different platforms,” he added.—APP