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May 13, 2018

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We strengthened national economy: Shahbaz

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Saturday said the PML-N government had taken concrete steps to strengthen economy due to which the GDP growth reached 5.8 per cent, which was highest in the last 13 years.

“We are facing the challenge of deficit and we have to resolve it by promoting trade, not by taking loans,” he said and added that there was a need to expand tax net and create additional resources.

Shahbaz, who is also the PML-N president, was addressing a conference attended by ambassadors, diplomats and senior officials from economic institutions from more than 60 countries, including China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, UK, Canada, India, France, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Korea and Malaysia.

Listing the government’s achievements in economic and social sectors, the chief minister said Pakistan was a peace-loving country and Pakistani people were hard working and peace lovers. “It needs a leadership which has the determination to serve the people and resolve their problems. The Pakistani political leadership needs to have consensus on the economic roadmap. Parties and governments come and go but the economic agenda of the nation should not be changed,” he added.

“If yes PML-N gets victory in the 2018 elections and given chance to serve the people, then we will advance the agenda of development and progress of the country. The promotion of ties with neighbouring countries will be an important ingredient of our foreign policy and we will advance the agenda of strengthening the economy,” said the chief minister.

In his keynote speech at the conference, Shahbaz said Pakistan had faced difficult circumstances in 1979 and became a frontline state in a big war. “Pakistan became a frontline state again in 2002 in the war against terrorism and in this war Pakistan gave sacrifice of more than 70,000 lives,” he said.

He said Pakistan played the status of frontline state in the Cold War and was again the frontline state in the war against terrorism and extremism.

The chief minister said Pakistan believed peace process in Afghanistan, adding, “Peace in Pakistan is directly linked to peace and stability in Afghanistan.

He said CPEC was the best example of economic cooperation and added that South Asia should say goodbye to the arms race for a bright future. The Founder of Pakistan wanted to see the Pak-India relations smooth like those between the US and Canada, he recalled.

Answering questions of ambassadors, Shahbaz said, “Our foreign policy will be based on peace, development and economic cooperation so that countries of the region could benefit from resources.”

In reply to a question asked by the Tajik ambassador, he said the TAPI and CASA projects were promoting ties between both countries on the pattern of CPEC.

To another question, he said, “We need to speed up industrial development and end difference between imports and exports. We need to take development rate to 7 or 8 from 5.8 by focusing on industries of export items.

Replying to question of the Afghan ambassador, Shahbaz said both countries had similar religious and cultural ties and “we are hosting four million Afghan refugees for decades. “Peace in Afghanistan is needed immediately for peace in Pakistan,” he said.

Answering another question, he said Pakistan and India were atomic powers and both countries should spend their resources for elimination of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy.

“Unfortunately, the people in the India-occupied Kashmir are facing worst brutality and their blood is being spilled. Time demands that the Kashmir issue should be resolved as per resolutions of UN. Pakistan and India should sit together to resolve their matters through talks and international community should provide help in this regard.”

The PML-N president said increase in population was a big challenge and it should be controlled like in Bangladesh and Malaysia. “We need to take measures to face the problem of water shortage due to global warming,” he added. To another question, he said the PML-N government had taken revolutionary measures for the development of women and their empowerment. The first centre to end harassment against women had been set up in Multan and they were also included in schemes like interest-free loans and educational funds.

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