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    Sunday, 13 May 2018

    Shehbaz Sharif lays out his vision before envoys

    Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is also PML-N president, has said Pakistan is a peace-loving country, but needs the leadership having determination to serve the people and solve their problems.
    “The political leadership needs to have consensus on the economic roadmap. Parties and governments come and go, but the economic agenda of the nation should not change. If the PML-N gets victory in the 2018 elections and is given a chance to serve the people, it will advance the agenda of development and progress of the country,” the CM said, addressing a conference attended by ambassadors, consuls and senior officers from economic institutions of more than 60 countries.
    The promotion of ties with the neighbouring countries will be an important ingredient of our foreign policy and we will advance the agenda of strengthening the economy, he averred.
    Answering a query on Pakistan-India ties after his keynote address, Shehbaz said Pakistan and India are atomic powers and both the countries should spend their resources for elimination of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. He said the people of Indian-held Kashmir are facing the worst brutality. Time demands that the Kashmir issue should be resolved as per the UN resolutions. Pakistan and India should sit together to resolve their matters through talks and international community should extend help in this regard, he asserted.
    He said Pakistan had to face difficult circumstances in 1979 and it became a frontline state in a big war. “Pakistan became a frontline state again in 2002 in the war against terrorism and in this war Pakistan sacrificed more than 70,000 lives, including those of officers and soldiers of Pak Army as well as security institutions and civilians. Pakistan played the role of a frontline state in the cold war in the 21st century. Pakistan is again the frontline state in the war against terrorism and extremism. The success in this war was due to consensus between military and political leadership. In the Swat operation of 2009, Zarb-e-Azab of 2014 and the current operation Radd-ul-Fasad, political and military leaderships were seen on the same page. Pakistan has a long history of being a responsible state at international level. We have always respected the resolutions of the United Nations and international treaties. Pakistan has a long history of relationship with Islamic countries, besides having strong and consistent relations with Western countries,” Shehbaz Sharif affirmed.
    He said the PML-N government has taken concrete measures to strengthen the economy, as a result of which its GDP reached 5.8 percent, being the highest in the last 13 years. “Similarly, the ratio of agriculture progress remained 3.8 percent,” he claimed. “We are facing the challenges of deficit and we have to resolve it by promoting trade, not by taking loans. The net of taxes needs to be increased and additional resources need to be created. We have to utilise natural resources for development of the nation. The PML-N government is striving to prepare skilled manpower as per needs of the market. For the promotion of education, health and technical education, we are thankful to the World Bank, DFIDs and other donor institutions and countries,” he stated.
    The Punjab chief minister said the PML-N government has saved billions of rupees in development projects during the last nine and a half years and this amount is being spent on education and health projects. He said investment of billions of rupees has been made in education and health sectors. He revealed Rs 17 billion have been given to brilliant students from needy families under Punjab Education Endowment Fund.
    “We have learnt from experiments of various countries and installed electricity projects under public-private partnership. The power crisis which had badly disturbed the national economy was overcome with the help of neighbouring countries. Hectic effects of the PML-N government proved fruitful and the power loadshedding was controlled. China made the investment of billions of rupees under CPEC in the power projects. We are working on the vision of making Pakistan a moderate, consolidated and developed country. All citizens have the same rights under the constitution of Pakistan. We are struggling for a bright future instead of looking towards the past,” the CM affirmed.
    “The foreign policy of Pakistan is based on the principles given by the father of the nation. It is my belief that peace process is drastically needed in Afghanistan. Peace in Pakistan is directly linked to peace and stability in Afghanistan. CPEC is the best example of economic cooperation in neighbouring countries. Pakistan and China are working on the belt and road vision of the Chinese president for the economic cooperation between the two countries,” the Punjab CM averred. New horizons of cooperation are being explored in the sectors of energy, communication, ports, and others under the CPEC, he affirmed.
    He urged South Asia to give up race for weapons for the bright future, adding a large population of South Asia is facing economic instability due to arms race. The founder of Pakistan wanted to see the Pak-India relations smooth like ties between the US and Canada. He said both the neighbouring countries should live on the principles of independence, respect and equality.
    Answering questions of ambassadors, CM Shehbaz Sharif said Pakistan’s foreign policy will be based on peace, development and economic cooperation so that countries of the region could benefit from resources. “We have wasted a lot of precious time and now it is the time to compensate for this loss. India conducted atomic explosion and Pakistan also did so to make its defence strong. Our action was not aggressive, but defensive,” the CM clarified.
    Answering a question raised by the Chinese ambassador, CM Shehbaz Sharif said China is the all-weather and sincere friend of Pakistan and it has made investment of billions of rupees under CPEC. In reply to another question asked by the Tajik ambassador, he said TAPI and CASA are wonderful projects.
    Replying to a question of the Afghan ambassador, CM Shehbaz Sharif said both the countries have similar religious and cultural ties and we have been hosting 4 million Afghan refugees for decades. Peace in Afghanistan is drastically needed for peace in Pakistan.
    To another question, he said the PML-N government has taken revolutionary measures for women empowerment. Women have been associated with all schemes of interest-free loans, educational funds and other welfare schemes.
    Ambassadors from more than 60 countries, including China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, UK, Canada, India, France, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Korea and Malaysia attended the Punjab conference.
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