ISLAMABAD: Inviting the world to invest in Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said his government was carrying out reforms to streamline the affairs of the country.

“Don’t miss it. This is the best time to invest in Pakistan as the country is going on upswing,” he said while addressing world leaders and investors at the World Government Summit in Dubai.

The prime minister again did not miss an opportunity to lash out at the opposition and former rulers during his speech and said they were responsible for the current economic crisis and no progress in Pakistan.

He said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government was making some much-needed reforms to provide ease of doing business to businessmen and investors because he had learnt from UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum that no country could progress unless opportunities were created for money generation.

“We are allowing businessmen to make money, providing better investment opportunities and simplifying tax regime for them. Now Pakistan has a chance and we feel that it can take off as foreign investors are eager to invest in the country,” he said.

Says PTI government is carrying out reforms to streamline country’s affairs; meets leaders of UAE and Lebanon on the sidelines of World Government Summit

The prime minister said his government was also improving its tourism policy as Pakistan had best tourism sites more than any other country and, therefore, foreign tourists must visit the country. “We have 1,000km-long coastal belt and beaches, religious tourism, 5000-year-old Indus civilisation, Budha’s legacy and world’s six highest mountains.”

Mr Khan recalled that Malaysia had only beach-based tourism and its annual revenue generation through that was $22 billion. Similarly, he added, Turkey’s tourism-based income stood at $42bn annually.

He alleged that Pakistan’s previous rulers had plunged the country into the crisis and his government was trying to put it on the right track. He admitted that the reforms being carried out by his government were creating difficulties. “Reforms can be painful, but the government is making efforts to overcome problems confronting the country as well as the people.”

He said the government had to increase electricity and gas tariffs to meet the country’s fiscal deficit.

‘Principles of state of Madina’

The prime minister said he was trying to replicate the principles of “State of Madina” and China in Pakistan to provide better facilities to the people and ensure justice and corruption-free society. “China has already adopted the principles of State of Madina and pulled over 700 million poor out of poverty,” he added.

Prime Minister Khan said Pakistan had lots of talent in all fields, but it needed to be tapped. “During my cricket carrier, I have observed that we have best talent in the world, but majority of players could not excel because of lack of opportunities.”

Earlier, the prime minister arrived in the United Arab Emirates along with his delegation on one-day official visit. The delegation comprised Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi, the PM’s advisers on commerce Abdul Razak Dawood and institutional reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain and special assistant Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari.

Prime Minister Khan was warmly received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, upon his arrival at Royal Airwing Dubai. He also held a meeting with the crown prince and exchanged views on matters of bilateral interest with him.

Foreign Minister Qureshi, while speaking to journalists before departing for the UAE, said governance was an important issue in the region in general and Pakistan in particular.

He said bad governance had created a lot of problems currently being faced by the country, adding that the prime minister was trying to introduce a fresh model and reforms for improvement in the performance of institutions.

Other meetings

On the sidelines of the summit, Prime Minister Khan met UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. Both leaders underscored the importance of greater collaboration in all areas of common interest, especially in enhancing investment and trade, according to the PM’s media cell.

Prime Minister Khan also met Saad El-Din Rafik Al-Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon, and congratulated him on the formation of new government and wished him all success in taking forward this national consensus government.

Mr Hariri reciprocally congratulated Mr Khan on his election and assumption of office of the prime minister. The Lebanese premier stressed the need for close and friendly relations between the two countries.

Both leaders agreed that the volume of trade between the two countries needed to be increased. Prime Minister Khan invited Lebanese companies to invest in Pakistan. They also underscored the importance of cooperation between parliaments of the two countries.

Mr Khan said he stood in solidarity with the Lebanese people in these challenging times and admired the efforts by the government in ensuring stability and security of Lebanon.

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2019