What plans did army chief share with businessmen?

Published September 5, 2023
Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir addressing the passing out parade of the Pakistan Military Academy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kakul on April 29. — ISPR
Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir addressing the passing out parade of the Pakistan Military Academy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kakul on April 29. — ISPR

KARACHI: Amid a gloomy economic atmosphere and lingering wheat, cotton and dollar crisis, Army Chief General Asim Munir has signalled towards the country’s bright future in view of the upcoming huge foreign investments in various sectors.

In a four-hour meeting with some 50 businessmen on Saturday, the army chief said during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia he had informed Mohammad Bin Salman that he had not arrived here for a $1-2 billion investment into Pakistan.

Later, the Saudi prince assured the army chief of investing $25bn in Pakistan under the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) aimed at attracting investment in the agriculture sector by offering land and ensuring exports.

Sources said the army chief has asked the Saudi prince to set aside $10bn to overcome the country’s foreign exchange issues which would be returned in rupees.

While referring to the meeting in the UAE, the army chief had also requested the UAE ruler to provide $10bn for improving foreign exchange reserves on which the UAE ruler had reportedly agreed. Another $25bn investment is also committed by the UAE ruler in case the army is with us.

Gen Asim Munir also assured businessmen of bringing $25-30bn investment from Qatar and Kuwait in his next visit to improve the country’s economy. He said that he would try to bring a total of $75-100bn investment from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait.

A businessman, who attended the meeting, said that the army chief had also disclosed levelling of lands was being done in various areas of Punjab, Sindh and other provinces to encourage foreign investment in various crops.

Sources said Gen Asim had also hinted at not going towards the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for any new programme as the fund does not give any permission to work freely and an increase in power rates was also a part of the programme.

The meeting also discussed gas, power, export and corruption along with the role of bureaucracy. On smuggling of Iranian petrol, he asked the corp commander that the Iranian petrol should not reach Karachi. The issues relating to corruption in Sindh, the culture of tax evasion, privatisation of sick SOEs, the return of illegal Afghani people to their homeland and non-filing of tax returns also came up in the discussion.

A businessman termed the meeting highly encouraging which would yield positive results at a time when the country is facing deep sugar and wheat crises and soaring dollar value against the rupee.

He said a follow-up meeting had been arranged with Corps Commander V in Karachi in light of Saturday’s meeting.

“Gen Asim Munir looks firm and optimistic to bring huge foreign investment from our Muslim countries and it will certainly make a difference in economic indicators,” he said.

The meeting was attended by Businessmen Group Chairman Zubair Motiwala, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Tariq Yousuf, FPCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh and some prominent businessmen of Karachi.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2023

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