Shehbaz Sharif addresses Pakistan Minerals Summit n Without naming India, PM says ready to talk to neighbour on serious issues n Pakistan, Barrick Gold agree to pay share in Pakistani rupees in Reko Diq project n COAS calls for playing collective role in Pakistan’s economy n General Syed Asim Munir invites foreign investors to discover country’s hidden treasures n Says SIFC to ensure 'ease of doing business' for domestic, foreign investors.
Those responsible for terrorist attacks will be brought to justice as soon as possible, says PM Shehbaz.
If the nation has profound commitment, then the sky is the limit and its vastness awaits us: COAS.
ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Tuesday stressed the need to learn from the bitter experiences of past 75 years and move ahead with strenuous efforts, collaboration and dedication by exploring the untapped resources including the vast natural minerals and reserves and developing the agriculture, information technology and industrial sectors.
Addressing a 'Pakistan Minerals Summit’, the prime minister referred to keynote addresses of various speakers and said if these suggestions and proposals were translated into letter and spirit, he was convinced that the nation would find its lost place in the next few years through hard work and untiring efforts.
The PM regretted that the country’s journey of 75 years was dotted with bitter factors as they could not fully exploit the precious natural deposits estimated at worth $6 trillion.
“The day gives an opportunity to self-contemplation over a journey of last 75 years and the reasons due to which Pakistan landed into this situation with a begging bowl,” he added.
Elaborating his viewpoint, he said with Russian support, Pakistan Steel Mills was established during the 70s while in Reko Diq a hefty penalty of $10 billion was imposed on Pakistan and had it been enforced, the entire country’s foreign reserves would have been depleted.
The prime minister referred to the ‘Thar’ coal mines reserves and said these were being converted for the development of Pakistan. Due to the working of certain cartels, he said the natural resources were not explored in the past and cited that financial and political reasons were also involved in the delay which required deep introspection.
The prime minister said the Chinot iron ores field belonged to the poor people of Pakistan, but it also showed another worst example of corruption. He said without any bidding, it was handed over to an overseas Pakistani who had no business history, but when the matter was taken up by the subsequent government and landed in a court of law, it termed the entire matter as a manifestation of loot and plunder. But later, he said, nothing happened as NAB could not arrest those who had been accused of plunder, adding that it was a heart-wrenching story. The summit was attended by federal ministers, foreign delegates, ambassadors, Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir, experts, relevant authorities, and investors.
The prime minister further regretted that the previous governments should have dedicated themselves to the welfare of the poor people of Pakistan. He also praised the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the financial support worth 2 billion dollars which also helped in reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia always stood together through thick and thin and supported each other at every forum. The prime minister said that NAB, unfortunately, created fears and harassed the business community and bureaucrats in the past as it was used as a tool for witch-hunting of political opponents. He said the present government focused on building a strong nation. He reiterated that Pakistan was keen to maintain friendly ties with all the countries for the mutual benefit of their people.
Without naming India, he maintained that they were ready to talk to their neighbors, if there were serious matters on the table as wars were no solution to issues. The prime minister said three wars were imposed on Pakistan in the last 75 years and said these had generated more poverty and lack of resources which otherwise, had been spent on the development and prosperity of their people.
“The neigbours have to understand that unless abnormalities are removed, normalcy cannot take place and the serious issues should be addressed through serious discussions,” he emphasised. The prime minister said that the incumbent government would complete its term in the current month. The society had been bitterly divided, he said, adding unless they show unity and discipline, they could not succeed in their efforts, he added. The prime minister said the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) was set up for the first time in the country including all the stakeholders that would collaborate and facilitate the execution of the development projects.
On the occasions, different speakers including foreign delegates also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the need for exploration of the natural resources of Pakistan by utilising the latest technologies and offered different suggestions and proposals for facilitation to lure foreign investments.
‘Reko Diq project to prove a game changer’ Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said that Reko Diq project would prove to be a game changer for the development of Balochistan and region besides ushering a new era of progress and prosperity.
The prime minister, talking to a delegation of Barrick Gold led by CEO Mark Bristow which called on him, said Pakistan was rich with immense resources of minerals. The government was taking measures on priority to take maximum advantage of the said resources, he added.
According to a PM Office statement, the Barrick Gold agreed to make the payment of Pakistan’s share of investment in Pakistani rupees. The prime minister said the participation of Barrick Gold and other international firms in Pakistan Mineral Summit held earlier on the day manifested the revival of investors’ confidence in Pakistan. This revival of the investors’ confidence including that of Barrick Gold in Pakistan was made possible consequent to the formation of Special Investment Facilitation Council. In the meeting, Mark Bristow apprised the prime minister of progress in the ongoing development works in Reko Diq. Prime Minister Shehbaz said that the Reko Diq project agreement would prove to be beneficial for both the parties. He instructed all the relevant institutions to fulfill their responsibilities regarding the execution of Reko Diq project. The meeting was told that a Community Development Committee had been formed in the Reko Diq which identified actions for uplift of Balochistan and its people.
It was told that the local elders in the committee identified the projects aimed at the prosperity of the people of Balochistan. Under the project, the skilled local people were being provided employment opportunities and a huge amount would be spent on development of the area.
Minister of State for Petroleum Musaddik Malik and special assistants to PM Jahanzeb Khan and Tariq Bajwa, and relevant senior officers attended the meeting. ‘Involvement of Afghan citizens in suicide blasts’ Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has urged the Interim Afghan government to undertake concrete measures towards denying its soil to be used for transnational terrorism. He was speaking during his visit to Peshawar along with Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir.
The prime minister noted with concern the involvement of the Afghan citizens in the suicide blasts and liberty of action available to the elements hostile to Pakistan in planning and executing such cowardly attacks on innocent civilians from the sanctuaries across the border. Shehbaz Sharif also appreciated the emergency efforts undertaken by the Army in the evacuation of wounded personnel from Khar to Peshawar, saving many lives.
On the occasion, the Prime Minister was briefed on the overall security situation in the province with focus on the Khar Suicide Blast, status of investigations under process and counter terrorism efforts being undertaken to dismantle the terrorists’ network by disrupting the linkages between planners, executioners, and abettors. The Prime Minister and the Army Chief also visited the wounded personnel under treatment at Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Peshawar and inquired after their health. The Prime Minister instructed the concerned authorities to render best possible healthcare services to the wounded patients until their full recovery.
While interacting with the bereaved family members of the victims of Khar Suicide Blast, the prime minister assured them that the entire nation stands with them in this hour of grief and shares the burden of their losses. He said these cowardly attacks by terrorists cannot weaken our resolve to eradicate the menace of terrorism from Pakistan. Security Forces and law enforcement agencies with the support of the nation will ensure that those responsible for the dastardly attacks are brought to justice as soon as possible.
Earlier on arrival, the Prime Minister and the Army Chief were received by Commander Peshawar Corps. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir said Tuesday that the Pakistan government along with state institutions had ensured the establishment of Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) in order to bring the stakeholders at one platform. Addressing the Pakistan Mineral Summit, he said it had laid down new rules for ‘ease of doing business’ for domestic and foreign investors in the country. “We will ensure an investor-friendly system that avoids unnecessary delays and provides easy terms and conditions for business. There are vast mining opportunities in our country which will be realised through joint efforts,” he added.
General Syed Asim Munir thanked the foreign delegates and investors for participating in the moot, which was the first such event in the country. He also thanked Barrick Gold Corporation CEO and President Mark Bristow and Saudi Mining Minister Engineer Khalid bin Saleh Al Madifar and other investors.
He stressed persistence for staying on the path of peace and prosperity and said the mineral-related projects were the stepping stone, which would eventually lead towards the development of the masses. Referring to natural resources of the country, he said: “Just look at your country, from the snow-capped mountains to the vastness of the deserts, from the coastline to the plains. What else is not there in this land?” He said: “In Surah Rahman, Allah the Exalted has said: And which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?” The Army Chief noted: “If the nation has profound commitment, then the sky is the limit and its vastness awaits us.” He specifically referred to the Holy Qur’an: “Allah helps those who help themselves”. He also read Allama Iqbal’s poem that underlined the need for an individual to remain steadfast in hard times and strengthen its faith in Allah Almighty to achieve his or her destination. “It is our social responsibility to play our collective role in the country’s economy. We must never lose hope. Our land is endowed with many minerals and to fully utilise this potential, we invite foreign investors to play their role in discovering the hidden treasures of Pakistan,” he said.