Sartaj says Pakistan will help international efforts for Afghan reconciliation process
ISLAMABAD: Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday said that any future progress on regional integration would sustain if peace and stability prevailed in Afghanistan.
“This is not possible without Pakistan’s support to the international community and we will do all that we can to help the Afghan reconciliation process,” he said while addressing the three-day 20th Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) organised here by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Sartaj said that Pakistan was an important force behind keeping trans-boundary energy and resource sharing agreements on track. He said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had paved the way for foreign investment in the country and had enabled Pakistan to connect to all countries using the concept of Belt Road Initiative.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director Xiahong Nang said that efficient infrastructure was an important element for regional cooperation. She said that the trade patterns were changing between emerging and developing countries and ultimately Pakistan had great potential to trade with CAREC countries.
Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance Dr Miftah Ismail said that SMEs should be a local economic venture, with focus on industrial zones as facilitators with a national development innovations as key to economic development. He said that the industrial zones, therefore, were the backbone of economic development under CPEC.
In his keynote address, former State Bank governor Dr Ishrat Hussian said that in the first 40 years, the economic growth of Pakistan stood at 6 to 6.5% while India’s economy was at 3%. However, from 2000-2015, there was a decline in Pakistan’s growth at 4 to 4.5%. he said that Bangladesh had also surpassed Pakistan, as currently, its economic growth stood at 6 to 6.5%.
Bangladesh’s exports for 2016 were $35 billion whereas Pakistan’s exports were $21 billion. To improve the current condition, Dr Ishrat reiterated that policies needed to be implemented, as efficient, strong, capable institutes made an economy functional. If the efficiency decreases, the cost and the competitive edge will also decrease, he added.
He proposed that the good governance and inclusive institutions could help promote economic integration in Pakistan. UN CEDAW Committee member Bandana Rana said that Pakistan and India had the reservations against Article 16 that deals with the issues pertaining to marriage, divorce and married life.
She said that states have to translate suggestion/recommendation by the CEDAW committee and disseminate it to the large audience. Pranav Adhikari from Nepal linked to gender equality and empowerment with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to him, SDG’s cannot be achieved unless women goal 5 will be achieved. He was of the view that both men and women were subject to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).
In his welcome address, SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that today’s South Asia was a democratic region where stagnant economic conditions of the pre-independence era have now transformed into an economic dynamism. “We are free to choose the people we want to be ruled by. We are free to live under a political system of our own choice,” he said.
“We have reduced poverty on a massive scale, and our products and services are competing in the world.” However, he said that the economic scenario was still not able to address structural inequalities, and the economic growth has made the difference between the rich and the poor as obvious as the one between glittering high-rises of Karachi, Mumbai, or Dhaka and the slums just underneath them.
Imran Shaukat from Jobs Group said that CAREC and CPEC were international visions and among all countries, China was the only country promoting globalisation and working on regional cooperation. He stressed the need to help agro-based countries like Pakistan to bring forward the potential for export promotion.