Shehbaz Sharif lays foundation stone of eight mega projects in D I Khan n Claims coalition govt steered country out of economic crisis though Imran Niazi had wished for country's default n Strongly condemns incident of desecration of Holy Quran in front of Iraqi Embassy in Denmark n We, in Pakistan, are in deep pain and distress: PM n Interim govt will surely adhere to IMF deal: PM n 64pc of money received from donors for flood victims being spent in Sindh, PM told.
DERA ISMAIL KHAN/ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Tuesday that despite the history's most difficult period, the coalition government had steered the country out of economic crisis.
During the last 16 months, the incumbent government faced the most difficult challenges like the devastating flood hit the country soon after it took charge of the office, he added. The prime minister was speaking as the chief guest at an inaugural and ground breaking ceremony of eight development projects in energy and communication sectors. "We faced the devastating flood on one side, and inflation, the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) pressure, and political crisis on the other. Such challenging problems have never been faced by me in my whole life," he said.
He said all the coalition government parties had unanimously decided to ensure economic stability at all costs, including their politics. Such a resolve on their part helped the government to bring the country out of crisis. There was record wheat production in a decade, which saved billions of dollars. However, PTI Chairman Imran Niazi exploited his own created situation which he used for political gains at the country's cost, he added.
The prime minister said political opponents had wished for the country's default, which by the blessings of the Almighty reverted due to the efforts of incumbent government. He said had the former regimes fully utilised the country's rich resources such as hydro power the country might have affordable and clean energy, and stressed to overhaul the faulty power transmission system causing over Rs 400 billion annual losses to the national exchequer.
PM Shehbaz vowed to break the begging bowl by curtailing the government expenses. A comprehensive plan of the Pakistan Green Initiative had been undertaken to take the country to new heights of development and prosperity. Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman thanked the prime minister for his personal interest in ensuring development of the area. Former PM Nawaz Sharif had laid the foundation of many mega projects, which the PTI government seized hampering economic development, he added. Fazl said industrial estates being established in Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan would change the fate of the people of the area. Fazl alleged that the PTI government was out to play wreck with the country’s development. He said the world should know that we wanted friendly relations with other countries, but the ‘relationship of slave and master’ was not acceptable. Minister for Energy Khurram Dastgir said the development projects, which remained suspended during 2018 to 2022, were being completed on priority.
He said due to the PM’s personal intervention, 5000 MW of electricity was added to the national grid in just 16 months. The transmission line in Thar was completed in a few months, while work on three new grid stations of Rs 2 billion in Dera Ismail Khan was initiated by the current government, he added.
Minister for Communications Asad Mehmood said the coalition government was committed to create a road link between the Gwadar Port and the Central Asian countries under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said the projects inaugurated by Nawaz Sharif were being restored and completed in various areas, especially in the southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Minister of State for Petroleum Dr Musadik Malik said on the prime minister’s direction, sufficient supply of energy to the people at affordable price was being ensured.
During the last one year, he said, around 270 mmcf gas worth over $1 billion had been discovered from various areas of the country, and of which 138 mmcf had already been injected to the system while the rest would be included soon. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Haji Ghulam Ali, National Assembly Deputy Speaker, provincial ministers and government officials were present on the occasion.
PM’s Freelancer and Venture Capital Initiative Also, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that maximum financial and professional support to the youth was inevitable to exploit their immense potential in information technology which could also guarantee the county’s prosperity. The prime minister, addressing the launching ceremony of PM’s Freelancer and Venture Capital Initiative, and National Innovation Award Investor Connect, said the network of incubation centers needed to be spread across the country by carving out maximum funding keeping in view the country’s future. He said considering the talent and importance of the IT, Rs 2 billion allocated for the venture capital was just “peanuts”, though it was scraped by the government despite financial constraints. The prime minister was “taken aback” as he visited the stalls and was briefed about the innovative projects prepared by the youngsters, including drones for agriculture purposes, IT-led medical systems, and usage of banana peels for different products. “I really salute all of you,” he remarked and particularly lauded Sahar Munir, a girl from Naushki for her vision and ideas to promote the IT sector.
He said the network of incubation centres should have been spread countrywide some 10 years ago and recalled the establishment of such a center at the Arfa Karim Tower in 2009 by him while being the Punjab chief minister.
“This is the untapped talent across Pakistan which we have to own. This is our responsibility to arrange trainings and provide maximum funding,” he said and called for holding similar innovation award ceremonies in other parts of the country.
He said the funding for the IT endowment fund should be increased by billions annually to capacitate the youngsters, and support their research and development. Prime Minister Shehbaz, who earlier launched the initiatives and gave away awards among top 10 winners of the second round National Innovation Award, also instructed the formulation of a coordinated mechanism and a policy framework for the IT sector for onward cabinet approval so that the interim government could carry the projects forward without any impediment.
He said the whatsoever party forms the next government, they should facilitate the IT sector, which, if supported for next five years, could bring in billions of dollars to the country.
In his address, Minister for IT and Telecommunications Syed Aminul Haq said his ministry was coordinating and cooperating to execute the prime minister’s vision of a ‘Digital Pakistan’. He said the ministry was facilitating around 20 incubation centres in various parts of the country. He told the gathering that efforts were underway to enhance women participation in the IT start-ups as during the last five years, out of 1387 start-ups, 37% were of women.
Special Assistant to the PM on Youth Affairs Shaza Fatima Khawaja said that the ceremony marked the second round of National Innovation Award with 50 winners and connect them with the investors to capitalise their ideas. PM distressed over recent incident of desecration of Holy Quran Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday strongly condemned yet another incident of desecration of the Holy Quran in front of an Iraqi Embassy in Denmark saying it had left Muslims all over the world deeply anguished.
“We, in Pakistan, are in deep pain and distress. The recurring pattern of these abominable and Satanic incidents has a sinister design: to hurt the inter-faith relations, damage peace and harmony and promote religious hatred and Islamophobia,” the prime minister said on his official twitter handle.
He called upon the governments and faith leaders in particular to put an end to such abhorrent practices. “Let us not allow a handful of misguided and evil people to hurt the emotions of billions of people. Let them not dictate their nefarious agenda,” he added. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said that the government had established a robust mechanism in form of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) to attract investments with a view to do away with the “addiction” of borrowings and put the country on the course towards self-sustainability. The prime minister, addressing the participants of the third meeting of the International Partners Support Group (IPSG), said the government had chalked out an economic revival plan. Its implementation would require foreign investment and technical support from friendly countries to enhance per acre yield of wheat, sugarcane and other commodities and focus on other areas of action. He thanked the member countries and organisations for supporting Pakistan amidst the difficult time of unprecedented floods and told them the people still awaited return to their homes as they lacked funding to rebuild the destroyed houses. This shows the severity of the challenge which required untiring efforts by the government, friendly countries and international partners to help Pakistan build climate-resilient infrastructure.