ISLAMABAD: Queen Maxima of The Netherlands wound up her three-day visit to Pakistan after a meeting with President Mamnoon Hussain where she praised the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, saying it would bring in prosperity to whole South Asian region.

The UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance also praised Pakistan’s efforts for promoting more financial inclusion saying it was one of only 25 countries focusing on this issue.

A spokesperson for the Presidency said the queen also praised other projects and institutions, including the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).

She lauded the government’s policies and hoped that the benefits of these policies would be passed on to the common man to improve their standard of living, a handout said.

Queen Maxima appreciated programmes initiated to help ordinary men, women and the youth to play their due role in the development of society.

President Mamnoon Hussain urged the World Bank and other international financial institutions to support Pakistan in surmounting the problems it faced to usher in an era of prosperity.

Separately, speaking to a group of Pakistani and Dutch journalists, the Dutch royal said the launch of a national strategy on financial inclusion and the subsequent establishment of a council for the implementation of the strategy was a welcome effort on the part of Pakistan.

She said that her first visit to Pakistan had yielded useful discussions with government leaders and that she was briefed on the challenges facing Pakistan in the realm of financial inclusion.

But since only 16 per cent of Pakistanis have bank accounts and the demand is huge, she said Pakistan had a long way to go noting that there was a great disparity between men and women with regard to the usage of banking services.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2016