Feb 14 - 20, 2005



Since the 13th SAARC summit having been cancelled, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz remained in the country throughout last week and took initiatives in various sectors pertaining to social, economic and political development.

He had meetings with World Bank Executive Directors, Secretary General of Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), investors delegation and Minister for Trade and Commerce of Afghanistan besides presiding over various meetings and events. Interviews to a foreign newspaper and a local TV channel were included in his programme.

Immediately after return from Davos, the Prime Minister in a meeting with a group of Executive Directors of the World Bank underscored the need for the World Bank and Pakistan to enter into a long-term development partnership for economic transformation of the country terming the World Bank's role as critical in the development of Pakistan. "If the country is provided the soft loans facility by the Bank on long-term basis, country's social and economic development can further accelerate," he said adding "to cater for funding requirements for the developments of social sectors, Pakistan needs enhanced IDA allocation consistent with its performance."

Dilating upon his development policy, the Prime Minister said, it draws heavily from deregulation and privatization with emphasis on transparency. Wide-ranging structural reforms, prudent macroeconomic policies strict financial discipline and consistency and continuity of policies have transformed Pakistan into a resurgent economy. He stressed the need for Bank's continued support for second generation of reforms already initiated by Pakistan. He hoped that the Bank would participate in investments in sectors like infrastructure development, water resources development and power sector development.

In an interview to the Financial Times London, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said he will propose a series of confidence boosting joint ventures with India when he meets Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the 13 SAARC Summit. He hoped that the projects he will offer to India would help case tension between the two countries

Talking to a delegation of Asia Brown Boveri headed by its president, the Prime Minister said that the investment climate in Pakistan was highly conducive and the year 2005 will be the best year for foreign investment. Availability of cheap and hardworking labor and strategic location have made Pakistan an ideal choice for investors, maintained the Prime Minister.

The ABB President lauded the achievements made by the country in the economic field recently and said that it has the potential to achieve even higher growth rate. He said that his organization is currently exploring opportunities for expansion in its activities in the country especially in the power sector. He informed the Prime Minister that it is already doing about 20 million dollars business in Pakistan.

The ABB is a leader in power and automation technology in Pakistan. It has made substantial investments in Pakistan through state-of-the-art Turbo Charger Workshop at Lahore, serving Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and the industry, automation technologies services center at Lahore is serving oil and gas segment and industry, communication technologies service center at Islamabad, serving WAPDA's Power Technologies Service Center at Karachi, serving IPPs and KESC.



While talking to Afghan Trade & Commerce Minister, Hidayat Amin Arsala, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said that numbers of steps were being taken to facilitate and enhance trade with Afghanistan, which is likely to cross one billion dollars in near future. He said an economically strong, politically stable and vibrant Afghanistan is good for its people as well as for its neighbors. He hoped that the existing economic, trade and social relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan would be further strengthened in the days ahead. He pointed out that Pakistan was increasing its trading points to ten at the border areas which would be equipped with modern equipment to expedite clearance of goods.

After having a brief discussion on the report of the parliamentary committee on Balochistan, Prime Minister told newsmen that all issues will be resolved through dialogue. The committee formed under the leadership of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is working to resolve all issues through dialogue. He said Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has briefed him about the efforts being made to find an amicable solution of the problems of the Balochistan province. The Prime Minister said that we want to resolve amicably the issue of Balochistan, however, no Pakistani wants that vital national installations should be damaged.

Presiding over a meeting on textiles, the Prime Minister has called for improving the quality of textile products to capture more markets abroad. He urged the textile sector to shift from commodity to specialty and value addition to compete in the global market. He said the government has established a separate ministry to facilitate and promote the textile industry. The Ministry would focus on facilitating the sector to improve efficiency, increase production and enhance capacity. He was of the opinion that the free trade system provides us an opportunity to leverage our full potential to improve the efficiency and quality of textile products to capture the markets abroad. He said the textile sector in Pakistan is developing rapidly and during the last five years more than $4 billion have been invested by the private sector to expand their capacity and production.

The Prime Minister said the government is launching comprehensive skills and vocational training program in the country to provide trained and skilled workers to the textile sector. He asked the textile sector to also launch training programs in private sector to meet the demand of skilled workers in the industries. The Prime Minister said the government is providing an environment-conducive opportunities for investment. Textile cities are being established in Karachi and Lahore to facilitate export specific textile industries, where all possible infrastructure facilities will be provided. He called upon the textile industry to work closely to develop the agriculture sector so that quality raw material could be made available to them.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Wednesday formed an inter-ministerial committee for promotion of culture, sports, tourism and trade with special focus on projecting Pakistan's image abroad. The committee headed by the Prime Minister includes Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Commerce, Information & Broadcasting, Investment, Industries, Culture & Sports and Religious Affairs. The concerned Ministers of State shall also be the members of this committee. The Prime Minister said Pakistani missions abroad should proactively work for availing opportunities for arranging events, exhibitions cultural functions with a view to projecting the image of the country. He said the success stories in different fields need to be projected through international media. Pakistan, he said, has a rich heritage and custodian of oldest civilization. "We have the highest mountain peaks, longest glaciers outside the polar region and heritage of Indus Valley and Buddhist civilizations." This provides us great potential for attracting tourists from abroad. There was a need to project this heritage and civilization proactively to promote tourism.

Addressing a joint news conference accompanied by OIC Secretary General Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Shaukat Aziz said Pakistan was confident that the OIC would "help Ummah to face the confronting challenges of the present age". He said the Organization of the Islamic Conference has to play a pivotal role in finding solution to problems being faced by the Muslim Ummah. He underlined OIC role in promoting the concept of enlightened moderation. "Islam is religion of peace, brotherhood, tolerance and moderation, he observed.