KARACHI: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Friday said the government was eager to take advantage of modern technologies for enhanced access to preventive and curative healthcare for the people, particularly the most vulnerable ones.
Addressing the HealthTech Summit held by the Aga Khan University (AKU), Kakar said the advent of modern technology in the health sector was an exciting time for patients, healthcare providers as well as the government.
He said the government needed support from the experts and professionals using modern technologies in the health sector as the provision of universal health coverage was the constitutional responsibility of the government.
“Through technology, our dream of providing quality health services will be fulfilled,” he added.
The interim prime minister also highlighted the role of the private sector and philanthropists in fulfilling the dream of universal health coverage.
He said the potential of technology to reshape healthcare was immense as gene therapy was no more a fiction but a reality.
Digital technology and artificial intelligence were powerful tools for healthcare providers to ensure the diagnosis far quicker than ever, he added.
Calling the AKU a national asset for Pakistan, he lauded the institution’s global ranking as well as its services during Covid-19 in the form of training thousands of professionals and setting up health clinics in the flood-hit areas.
He said the AKU graduates were positively impacting society as ethical leaders and innovators and urged other institutions to emulate the best practices of the institution.
He said the services of the AKU in Pakistan and across the borders, were testimony to the vision and generosity of Prince Aga Kahn who believed that the people of Pakistan deserved the best of education and health facilities.
Kakar said the technology had implications for the entire way of life including ethics, religion and democracy.
He also highlighted the challenges posed by modern technology tools which necessitated the role of regulations and the government.
However, he said instead of containing the change, one should engage with it to use it productively.
AKU President Sulaiman Shahabuddin, in his address, apprised the gathering about the summit and its significance.
He also thanked the caretaker prime minister for attending the summit which he said manifested the government’s commitment to the health sector.
Lt Gen (retd) Dr Nigar Johar called for collaborated efforts to leverage modern technology as digitalisation had brought improvements in multiple fields.
She said the coordinated approach for public-private partnership at national, regional, and international levels for the achievement of universal health coverage, was inevitable.
Separately, in an interactive session with the AKU students, Kakar reaffirmed the equal rights for minority communities and called for enforcing meritocracy and social opportunities for their uplift and mainstreaming.
He said the minorities were equal Pakistanis as Madina State had also guaranteed equal responsibilities and rights for the citizens.
Calling for infusing a sense of confidence in the people, he said that meritocracy should be enforced, and social opportunities for minorities should be created.
To a question, he said that the people of Pakistan enjoyed freedom of expression and considering the country’s political history, any particular incident could not be associated with the government of that particular term.
He said that the incidents involving the violations of freedom of speech were not limited to a particular government.
The interim prime minister, responding to a query by a university student about the arrest of journalists, said that during the tenure, he was referring to, the journalists were shot at and faced many such acts which were against the freedom of expression.
“You have a freedom of expression and speech. You spoke your heart before the prime minister.
After this, your allegation of no freedom of speech would carry lesser weight,” he remarked.
About the rights and status of Gilgit Baltistan, he said the GB was and would remain part of Pakistan.
He said the matter of rights should be tackled peacefully without any resentment.
“The political procedure should move forward. The GB should be our Singapore. Our identities are associated with each other,” he remarked.
To a question, he said after the 18th amendment, health was a devolved subject with the provinces having all the funding to spend on the sector.
The visionary leadership is essential to address the challenges, especially the management of funds, he added. About the lack of education research, Kakar said allocating billions of rupees for the parliamentarians amidst the higher education and research crisis was unjustified.
He said some individuals might have this realisation, but it should be at the policymaker level.
He urged the students to keep raising their voices for the promotion of education to jolt the people at the helm of affairs.
To another query, he said he was not worried about the educated people moving abroad as they were not divorced from the society rather they would continue to contribute to the country’s development through their remittances.
“If a nurse or doctor is joining the global supply chain and contributing to the GDP, this is not a curse.
This is quite natural. The gaps should be filled. Of our huge population, if some useful individuals go abroad, they are not divorced from our society,” he commented.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, he said that the educational institutions had always been very close to his heart.
He also gave a historical account of the education and research from the Greek period to the modern era experiencing unprecedented modern tools.
Separately, during a meeting with members of the Pakistan Stock Exchange and heads of leading companies of Pakistan, the caretaker prime minister said that the interim government was ensuring the implementation of its institutional reform agenda besides taking practical steps for documentation of the economy.
He said that the facilitation of the business community and investors was among the priorities of the caretaker government.
He also highlighted the establishment of the recently established Special Investment Facilitation Council, its positive initiatives to attract foreign investment, and the encouraging results.
In the meeting, the PSX CEO thanked Kakar for his visit and gave a detailed briefing regarding the stock exchange.
The interim PM was informed that in the last few months, due to the business-friendly policies of the caretaker government, the confidence of the investors and the business community had increased which also led to a boom in the business as well as the stock exchange.
The participants of the meeting also appreciated the government’s seriousness and institutional reforms.
Kakar commended the services of the business community and investors for the country.
The meeting was attended by Caretaker Federal Minister of Finance and PSX Chairperson Dr Shamshad Akhtar, PSX CEO Farrukh Khan, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Chairman Akif Saeed and heads of other leading companies of Pakistan.
Earlier, addressing the ceremony marking the first auction of the Government Ijarah Sukook bonds issued by the PSX, the caretaker prime minister said that the investors had regained confidence after the successful signing of a standby agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the execution of the annual budget 2023-24 and improvement in the fiscal and external accounts.
He said it was the collective responsibility of the stock brokers, the SECP, and other participants to promote upcoming primary market auctions to market it a remarkable achievement for the entire market ecosystem.
He congratulated all the stakeholders on the auction of the Government Ijarah Sukook through the PSX, instead of the State Bank of Pakistan, which was aimed at simplifying the participation in government securities auction, diversifying the investors’’ base, and enhancing transparency.
He lauded the market participant for their interest in the auction through the PSX, particularly the participation of the retail market.
He told the gathering that the stock exchange was a dynamic force and a heartbeat that resonated with the aspirations of business and progress.
The interim prime minister, who later rang the gong of the stock exchange, said it did not only herald the market transactions but also a symphony of progress and prosperity.
“The gong’s echoes reverberate not only within these walls but across the financial corridors of the nation, symbolising our commitment to fostering an inclusive and robust financial ecosystem that welcomes diverse voices and promotes economic prosperity shared by all,” he remarked.
He said initially, Pakistan’s economy faced multiple challenges at the start of 2023-2024, but the caretaker government addressed structural and macroeconomic issues to rectify the situation.
He said the collective efforts of all stakeholders had successfully brought the economy back on track, leading to a lower dollar rate from 307 on September 5 in the interbank to 284 today which also resulted in a decline in inflation.
Kakar said the bullish sentiment in the stock exchange was made possible by an improved economy, the participation of foreign investors, a high yield, and a stable exchange rate.
He said the capital market provided fuel for businesses to expand, create jobs, and contribute to the overall development of society.
He reiterated the government’s commitment to fostering an environment that nurtured the resilience of the capital market, recognising its critical role as a stabilising force that absorbed shocks and steered the economy toward stability.
The caretaker PM called for efforts to build a capital market that not only mirrored economic strength but also embodied values of fairness and integrity.
In her address, Dr Shamshad Akhtar welcomed Kakar to launch Government Sukook Auction through the PSX.
She said the Ijarah Sukook was a monumental and innovative product being launched for the first time beyond the State Bank which had total control over government securities.
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