Speakers at a programme have agreed that Pakistan has the potential to be the greatest country in the region in the next decade provided it gets honest leadership.
They were speaking at the inaugural session of the two-day Future Summit here.
Heaping praise on Prime Minister Imran Khan, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, who was the guest of honour, said Pakistan was one of the fastest growing economies and the premier had a vision for it.
“We are narrowing the fiscal deficit. Our ports are serving landlocked countries. CPEC is the road to success. We are connecting the world [through it]. We are offering cheap labour; IT is a key potential sector; digital policy 2018 is good; and reforms are in place. Today PIA has come to break even,” he said while recounting the successes of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government.
Mr Ismail said the PM was for peace talks. “Pakistan is mediating talks between Afghanistan and the US,” he added.
Earlier, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry spoke to the audience in his distinct style.
He started his address in English with lines such as “The more you know us [Pakistanis] the more you love us,” and then switched to Urdu because “the media loves me”.
Like the governor, he first went down memory lane to show how progressive Pakistan was in the past. He said those who had conceived the country were visionary people. In 1951 they set up the West Pakistan Laboratories, which was later turned into PCSIR. At the time there was no institution “parallel” to it in the Muslim world. In the 1960s the PCSIR led to an industrial revolution. Pakistan was the first country in 1963-64 to realise the importance of research on water. In 1963, Pakistan sent rockets into space. We in Asia were second to the USSR to have done so. But then we lost our way.
The minister said in the 1970s our focus shifted from science and technology. In those days we wasted opportunities, for example, if we had requested the US to make in Pakistan MIT or Stanford campuses, things would have been better, but instead we kept making and supporting madressahs that harmed our education system.
Mr Chaudhry said it is clear that in the future you can’t get rid of your deficit by [selling] tomatoes and onions. “You have to focus on technology. It is a paradigm that can take our country forward.” Countries such as China, Indonesia and Singapore that gained independence with us have progressed because of science and technology, and [adding in a lighter vein he said he brought this to Imran Khan’s notice] the science and technology ministers in those countries are almost treated as deputy prime minister. So the future plan is simple. The private sector needs to lead the way because if the government leads then it will be faced with bureaucratic hurdles. He also mentioned that the government’s focus is on biotechnology.
K-Electric chairman Ikram Sehgal said in 1954 Pakistan was part of the Baghdad Pact. Today, reverse of the Baghdad Pact has happened. There is tremendous opportunity for Pakistan … the Pakistan which is part of South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia. “We are the pivot.”
Shazad Dada gave an overview of the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) –– of which he is vice-president.
M. Azfar Ahsan, Ali Akhai, Iftikhar Shallwani and Ghiasuddin Khan also spoke. Amelia Yachya moderated the session which was titled ‘Reinvent the future’.