–Highlighting self-reliance, PM Imran urges investors to promote wealth creation, profitability
–Foreign Office told to promote country’s soft image at int’l fora through proactive economic diplomacy
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government will launch the biggest operation against money laundering in Pakistan’s history.
While speaking to journalists at the PM Office, where he recalled that the US State Department had said that money laundering worth $10 billion takes place from Pakistan annually.
“Since yesterday, we have been hearing hue and cry from Sindh,” said the prime minister in an apparent jibe aimed at the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) whose leaders are facing an inquiry in relation to fake bank accounts in the SC-mandated JIT’s report.
While speaking about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and latest instalment of loan, PM Imran said that the fund will lend money to Pakistan on lenient terms than previous times.
The prime minister said that the initial four months of his government were difficult as the production of electricity and gas, and Pakistan Internal Airlines (PIA) were all in losses.
He said that the country is still facing issues but there is no crisis situation, terming disorder as the biggest issue of the country.
Following a series of action in wake of the JIT report prepared by the FIA, the federal government on Friday released a list of 172 alleged fake accounts owners whose names have been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL).
Top PPP leaders including party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur are among those placed on the no-fly list. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and former chief minister Qaim Ali Shah are also included in the list.
On Thursday, CM Murad said his name was “fitted” in the report presented by the JIT probing the case pertaining to laundering of several billion rupees through fictitious bank accounts in the country.
PM Imran also said that the mindset of running the country through foreign debts damaged it and that the government will have to quit the policy of relying on others in a bid to adopt self-reliance, urging investors to promote wealth creation and profitability.
Addressing a conference of envoys in Islamabad, the prime minister said there is no respect of the one who keeps asking others for money. He stressed the need for eliminating hurdles in the way of foreign investment in the country.
Lauding the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for organising the conference, PM Imran said a nation rises only when it starts believing in its own. “We are mocked when we speak of the national honour. Where Pakistan stands today, I believe that this is a great opportunity for us.”
He, however, said they will have to change their mindset for the country to make progress, since a fraudulent mindset had caused huge loss to it.
The prime minister said that rulers in past kept taking shortcuts instead of increasing revenue of the country.
“Some of the richest individuals were devastated by taking loans. We made the decisions that provided us with short-term benefit, but [negatively] impacted the society,” he noted.
“We could not become one nation. We made wrong choices for short-term benefits.”
The premier said the elite of the country continued to thrive on foreign loans and tarnished its reputation in the world.
“We have a major role in distorting the image of the country. We need our envoys and we will utilise them for doing things that have not been done so far,” he said, stressing coordination among the Foreign Office, envoys and the Ministry of Interior.
The premier directed for maintaining lists of overseas Pakistanis and keeping in touch with them.
“We need teamwork which was not there until today. Remember that we overseas Pakistanis are the ones who work for up to 12 hours leaving their families behind,” he said.
“There should be special empathy for them; there should be special communities for overseas Pakistanis since these working class people reach abroad braving great difficulties.”
PM Imran urged the envoys to keep in touch with the Board of Investment (BOI) to open new avenues for exports. He said his government also needed assistance from them on the issue of money laundering.
The prime minister said huge amounts are laundered abroad through fake bank accounts, which was also one of the reasons for rupee’s depreciation.
He reiterated that his government was contacting different countries for bringing back looted wealth.
“People are right now looking towards Pakistan as it is the best place for investment,” he said. He added the youth of the country could take Pakistan forward if utilised rightly.
Moreover, the premier urged the Foreign Office to promote the soft and positive image of Pakistan at the international level through proactive economic diplomacy.
Elaborating his view as to how Pakistan had a bad image abroad, he said after the Iranian revolution and the 9/11 incident, the country’s leaders used to tell the western world that if they were not supported by them, fundamentalists would come and take over the country. “It is us who have created our bad image abroad,” he remarked.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi while speaking on the occasion said with the country having a negligible 0.12% share in the global trade a coordinated effort by the ministries of foreign affairs, commerce, finance and Board of Investment was a must to attract enhanced foreign investment, improve the balance of trade and exploit the true potential of tourism.
“We have to come out of silos and have to adopt a new approach and strategy for a new Pakistan,” he said and added that efforts were required to correct image of the country, and to revive the confidence of investors as well as nine million Pakistani diasporas.
Giving an overview of the country’s trade investment indicators, the foreign minister said Pakistan also had a very negligible share in the world’s annual flow of Foreign Direct Investment of $476 billion and ranked at 136th in terms of ease of doing business.
He said Pakistani envoys from China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, UAE, Turkey, UK and USA attended the two-day conferences and shared their experiences as well as the challenges and opportunities in the respective countries of their posting through detailed presentations.
Minister for Finance Asad Umar, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, and Board of Investment Chairman Haroon Sharif participated in the conference. Participants included representatives from Pakistan Business Council, FPCCI, Farmers Associations of Pakistan, Alitheia Capital, JW-SEZ Group, Gul Ahmed Textile, OICCI, Gree and NRSP. Pakistan’s Ambassadors to Japan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, UAE, Turkey, UK, Spain, Italy and Germany made presentations at the conference.
Besides, renowned personalities and experts from the private sector including Ahsan Malik, Syed Mazhar, Bashir Ali, Hassan Askari, Irfan Wahab, Ali Naqvi, Farooq Naseem, and Raheem Awans also attended the conference and gave their valuable input.