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January 31, 2018

Our Davos moment


January 31, 2018

The World Economic Forum (WEF) provides a global platform where leaders from across the world gather annually to take stock of the global trends in the economic sphere, assess their impact on the world and individual economies and chart out strategies for the future economic management of the global economy.

It also affords an opportunity to the participating world leaders to interact with each other on the sidelines of the WEF. In addition, it allows them to develop an interface with business leaders and international investors to present an exhaustive review of their economies with a view to entice them to invest in their countries. Apart from their economic pursuits, the leaders also get opportunities to dilate on issues pertaining to their region that affect them as well as their position with regard to handling these challenges.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s visit to Davos to attend in the WEF has been quite productive. His delegation comprised three women ministers. This sent a positive message about Pakistan’s credentials as a progressive Muslim country that faithfully adheres to the cause of gender equality and the empowerment of women – an issue of considerable interest to the world community.

The prime minister participated in a panel discussion on the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on the second day of the WEF. During the session, he effectively expounded on the initiative and the impact of its flagship CPEC project. The PM was right on the money when he claimed that CPEC was an initiative that would ensure the participation of the regional countries in an effort for shared economic prosperity. He emphasised that the project will also bring revolutionary changes in the economic profile of Pakistan by making it the economic hub of the region due to the connectivity ensured through the network of roads and infrastructure and the Gwadar Port that would open the outside world for the landlocked countries of Central Asia.

PM Abbasi’s observation that the BRI was perfectly in line with the 2018 WEF theme of a ‘shared future in a fractured world’ aptly explained the objective of the mega-economic initiative unfurled by China. He maintained that the project aimed to change the economic situations of the participating countries through a collaborative effort that emphasised infrastructural development. Economists believe that the successful completion and implementation of CPEC will add between two percent to three percent to the GDP of Pakistan – which, by any standards, would be a quantum jump for the economy and culminate in various economic and social benefits.

Our prime minister rightly claimed that CPEC had opened the doors for foreign investment in Pakistan that went well beyond the initiative itself. This, he asserted, augured well for the future of the country. It was indeed a commendable effort to put things into perspective and present a realistic view about BRI and CPEC that would help remove some of the misgivings about the project and generate interest among prospective investors to explore the avenues for productive investments in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also held exhaustive discussions on investment opportunities in Pakistan during his meetings with Bill Gates, the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, Mitsubishi Corporation and the heads of important international trade organisations. In his meeting with Bill Gates, the PM discussed different aspects of the health sector, including the Prime Minister’s Health Programme, universal health coverage, the elimination of polio and other related issues. These leaders demonstrated tremendous interest in the economic situation of Pakistan and gave positive responses with regard to investing in the country.

The PM also spoke extensively on the regional situation – particularly with reference to the hostile Indian attitude; the rationale for nuclear deterrence to counter India’s Cold Start doctrine; the efforts that Pakistan had made in dealing with terrorism and improving relations with its neighbours; and the realignment of relations between Pakistan and the US. He spoke on these issues at the breakfast meeting arranged by the Pathfinder Group and Martin Dow collectively on the sidelines of the WEF.

The PM’s visit to Davos was effectively utilised to project Pakistan’s economic and political profile. It was also an opportunity for the country to highlight its stance on regional challenges and its relations with its neighbours as well as the US.

Besides the PM, Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb – who also accompanied him to the WEF – had the opportunity to participate in a boardroom discussion titled ‘Information and Entertainment Systems Stewards Meeting’ at Davos, which she also co-chaired.

She spoke extensively about the media landscape in Pakistan; freedom of expression and the free flow of information; the legislative measures adopted to facilitate the media and safeguard freedom of expression; and the steps that the government plans to introduce so as to provide training facilities to journalists, which are necessitated by the rapidly changing media scenario and the challenges involved in striking a balance between freedom of expression and social responsibility.

She informed the audience that Pakistan had faithfully adhered to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration of Fundamental Principles to establish the New World Information and Communication Order.

The minister for defence and other members of the delegations also remained actively engaged in projecting the achievements in their respective domains and restoring the image of the country in the global sphere. It can be safely inferred that the visit to Davos has been particularly useful for us in all respects.

The writer is a freelance contributor. Email: [email protected]

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