PM says averting default his success

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.