Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Pakistan wants permanent peace with India through dialogue.
He said this during an informal interaction with a delegation of students from Harvard University in the United States who visited him in Islamabad on Friday.
The delegation was made up of students from various backgrounds and academic backgrounds. The Prime Minister welcomed the students and held a candid discussion on contemporary challenges facing Pakistan today.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister said that Islamabad and New Delhi should have competition in trade, economy and improving the conditions of their people. He said Pakistan is not an aggressor, but its nuclear assets and professionally trained military are a deterrent.
The Prime Minister briefed the students on his vision for Pakistan’s development. The students posed questions to the Prime Minister regarding the country’s economy, the IMF, agriculture, industry, IT and other sectors.
In response to a question on Pakistan’s economy and the IMF programme, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif replied that Pakistan’s economic crisis stemmed from structural problems as well as political instability of the past decades. The first decades since the establishment of Pakistan have been marked by impressive growth in all sectors of the economy. He said we have plans, a national will and the implementation mechanism to deliver results. He said the lack of focus, energy and political action has led to the reduction in national productivity. Shehbaz Sharif said that all efforts and resources have been deployed to stabilize the economy.
The Prime Minister also shared that his economic action plan has three components; the revitalization of the economy, making information technology the backbone of national development and exports the engine of the economy.
The Prime Minister also shed some light on his futuristic free laptop program offered to high achievers during the previous PMLN tenure, which not only helped students continue their education in the time of COVID-19, but has also helped young people in Pakistan to gain a strong foothold in the global freelance market. He said that for Pakistan to develop, we need to focus on vocational, scientific and skilled education.
Responding to another question, he said the government was working on a plan to unpack the country’s huge but untapped potential in the field of information technology. We are determined to increase our IT exports from the existing two billion US dollars to fifteen billion US dollars in the coming years.
The Prime Minister also reiterated Pakistan’s firm determination to maintain peace in the region. He underscored the fact that a lasting peace in South Asia is tied to the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue in accordance with UN resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiris.
Responding to a question on climate change, the Prime Minister reiterated the importance of the responsibility that the developed world bears towards developing countries like Pakistan which contributes less than 1% of carbon emissions but is the 5th more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. He also shared the government’s plans to switch from imported fuels to solar, wind and hydro power as Pakistan has immense potential in these areas.
The students appreciated the Prime Minister’s progressive approach to uplift Pakistan’s economy, bring peace to the region and political stability to the country. The delegation also praised the hospitality extended to them by the government and people of Pakistan during their visit.
The Prime Minister also stressed the importance of political stability in the country. He said that since the economy depends on political stability, he has repeatedly proposed a grand dialogue, culminating in the Charter of the Economy.
In response to a question on China-Pakistan relations, the premier said China and Pakistan are time-tested friends and their friendship has reached new heights with the signing of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The Prime Minister said the relationship with China remains the cornerstone of our foreign policy. He said CPEC heralded the start of a new era of economic development.
Federal Ministers Dr Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Special Assistants Ahad Cheema, Syed Fahad Husain, Jahanzeb Khan, Prime Minister’s Coordinators Bilal Azhar Kiyani, Rana Ihsan Afzal, HEC President and heads of relevant departments were also present at the meeting.