The new vision of President Musharraf is like a breath of fresh air.

FROM KHALID BUTT, Bureau Chief, Lahore.
July 10 - July 16, 2006

The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has come out in Whole hearted support of President General Pervez Musharraf's vision of economic diplomacy, describing it as a move in the right direction.

The premier national body representing the trade and industry has in a policy statement made some salient points, which they feel, could help augment and accelerate speedy implementation of presidential policy to give a new and more focused attention towards new goals earmarked for the country's diplomats.

LCCI President Mian Shafqat Ali told PAGE that the new vision of President Musharraf was like a breath of fresh air. It happens to coincide with oft declared and chosen views of LCCI for a complete reorientation of diplomatic thrust. He said the time has changed but somehow our diplomatic and bureaucratic policies remained stuck in old and pre-historic grooves. LCCI had been pleading for a change to induct incumbents carefully selected from the private sector in the commercial sections of the foreign missions. Their stand was based on the solid ground that only private sector could fully cope with the business and economic realities and not a run of the mill bureaucrat. However, he felt the policy could be further fine-tuned in consultation with the private sector and representative bodies like the various chambers in the country. Another crucial factor, which, LCCI had been pointing out, was the reorientation of the role of Export Promotion Bureau. In its present mode and style of working it was another body functioning in the stereotype grooves of bureaucracy, full of unnecessary procedures, complications and ways which often stood in negation rather than promotion of healthy exports. EPB needs to be converted into a body that should assist business and trade, help their growth and not create unnecessary hurdles in their way. Or in other words it should work for the proper implementation of the government policies like the new vision of President Musharraf.

LCCI, he said, had continuously striven to promote trade both for exports and facilitating healthy foreign investments and imports. It had been providing an important forum and acting like a bridge to fill in a vital national requirement. In pursuit of its above policy it has been involved in a flurry of activities including sending its delegation to all corners of the globe and by active participation in the foreign trade fairs and exhibitions.

It is therefore with great sense of relief and anticipation that the new economic diplomatic policy of President Musharraf has given a new thrust and sense of direction to our foreign missions. Pakistan is rightly at the threshold of some new and significant developments and the new initiative is both timely and historic step in this regard, he added.

President Musharraf, it may be recalled, had last week asked the Pakistani envoys to proactively pursue economic diplomacy, highlight Pakistan's geopolitical location in the region and project the positive developments in the country.

He spent almost a whole day at the Foreign Office where he had candid interactive session with the participants of the envoys conference, covering all aspects of Pakistan's foreign policy and national security.

The President had directed the envoys to project positive changes taking place in Pakistan - like strong economic growth, investment-friendly environment, social sector development, promotion and protection of human rights, empowerment of women and minorities and growth of cultural activities in Pakistan.