PM TRACKER
.
 

FIVE-YEAR ECONOMIC STRATEGY

.
From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI,
 Islamabad

Mar 21 - 27, 2005
.

 

 

 

Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz made three major policy announcements in Karachi and Islamabad last week besides his meetings with President Pervez Musharraf, PML Chief Ch. Shujaat Hussain, Sindh Chief Minister and parliamentarians at the PM House.

At the ground breaking ceremony of Karachi International Container Terminal, the Prime Minister declared a five-year economic strategy of the government.

The strategy accords highest priority to the chronic issue of water for drinking or agriculture purposes, which was receiving the special attention of the government, while the electricity comes next. The need for electricity, gas and need for hydrocarbons is there to be recognized, as the economy cannot grow if the right level of energy was not made available.

The development of infrastructure has been placed on 3rd in order, which includes development of ports, railways, road network, airports, telecommunications and other means helping the economy to function effectively. "To me, the development of human capital was the most critical area of our efforts. We have to invest more in health and education, skill enhancement and training. The government was coming up with firm initiatives at all levels to achieve this cherished goal, the PM observed.

Today, Pakistan has three major ports i.e. Karachi Port, Port Qasim and Gwadar which are windows to the rest of the world because the port is considered as the central point from where the country interacts with its trading partners around the world. The operation of these ports is directly linked with growth of economy hence these ports need to be provided adequate operational capacity.

Speaking at a Pakistan Navel facility, PNS Johar at Karachi, Prime Minister announced that Pakistan would not give a walk over to any power in the Indian Ocean. Pakistan had no aggressive design against any one, however, at the same time it was fully alive to its defensive needs to safeguard integrity of the motherland. The government believes in a minimum deterrence as a responsible and acknowledged nuclear country of 150 million people.

"Our vision for national security is embedded in economic sovereignty, strong defense, continued political process, good governance and friendlier international environment," the Prime Minister said, adding that "we must have an efficient strong and viable navy that is fully alive to the modern day needs."

Addressing the convocation of Pakistan Institute of Engineers and Applied Sciences at Nilor near Islamabad, Prime Minister said "Pakistan is a peace loving country and stands for peace but it cannot be assured without proper strength and its nuclear program is guarantee for peace in the region. Pakistan's scientific development has formed the basis of country's defense strategy, which is always to have a credible defense."

He said Pakistan was a peaceful country and wanted good relation with everyone. But he added, "Peace cannot be achieved through weakness. Peace could be achieved through strength." The country's nuclear program, the Prime Minister said, was achieved due to a passion, where the scientists worked with a sense of pride, achievement and accomplishment. "This (nuclear program) has become a guarantor of peace for this whole region." He pointed to the contribution of the Pakistani scientists in this regard and said "many of you have given Pakistan the strength to succeed to progress and develop."

 

 

In an interview to a private TV channel, Prime Minister made it clear that elections would be held in 2007. He brushed aside the whims of holding elections in 2006 being circulated in some circles. Local bodies election will, however, be held in 2005, he added.

Speaking at Ulema and Mashaik Conference in Karachi, the Prime Minister said that the universal principles of humanity, equity, tolerance and peace were the basic fundamentals of Islam hence it must not be projected as a religion vulnerable to the conspiracies. He called upon the Ulema to refresh the conviction among the Muslims in general and youth in particular regarding the strength of their religion, which holds immense flexibility and promotes respect for humanity.

Responding to the submissions made by scholars with regard to government policy towards the religious schools, the Prime Minister said the government is keen to provide equal opportunities to students registered with such institutions. "We desire these kids could excel in medicine, engineering, information technology and other modern disciplines," the idea is to help streamline the religious schools and students.

Combating the menace of drug was another important issue discussed at the cabinet meeting presided over by the PM. The cabinet decided to set up a cabinet committee under the guidance of narcotics minister, with an assignment to submit recommendations within 30 days. Other members of the committee include information, health, social welfare and women development ministers. He said the cabinet directed the Health Ministry to set up a pilot project by April 15.

The decision to set up a network of drug rehabilitation centers all over the country was another significance step, which will go a long way for addict's rehabilitation. The cabinet also noted with concern the rise in drug proliferation. To arrest this dangerous trend, it was decided to set up a ministerial committee headed by the Minister for Narcotics Control.