PM underlines need to explore precious natural resources


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday stressed the need to learn from the bitter experiences of the past 75 years and move ahead with strenuous efforts, collaboration, and dedication by exploring the untapped resources including the vast natural minerals and reserves of Pakistan.

The premier also emphasised developing the agriculture, information technology and industrial sectors.

Addressing a “Dust to Development” summit, the prime minister referred to the keynote addresses of various speakers and said if these suggestions and proposals were translated into letter and spirit, he was convinced that the nation would find its lost place in the next few years through hard work and untiring efforts.

Shehbaz regretted that the country’s journey of 75 years was dotted with bitter factors as they could not fully exploit the precious natural deposits estimated at $6 trillion.

“The day gives an opportunity to self-contemplation over a journey of last 75 years and the reasons which landed Pakistan into this situation with a begging bowl,” he added.

Elaborating his viewpoint, he said with Russian support, Pakistan Steel Mills was established during the 70s while in Reko Diq, a hefty penalty of $10 billion was imposed on Pakistan and if it was enforced, the entire country’s foreign reserves would have been depleted.

The prime minister referred to the Thar coal mines reserves and said these were also being converted for the development of Pakistan.

Due to the working of certain cartels, he said, the natural resources were not explored in the past and cited that financial and political reasons were also involved in the delay which required deep introspection.

The prime minister added that Chinot iron ores field belonged to the poor people of Pakistan, but it also showed another worst example of corruption.

He said without any bidding, it was handed over to an overseas Pakistani who had no business history, but when the matter was taken up by the subsequent government and landed in a court of law, it termed the entire matter as a manifestation of loot and plunder.

But later, he said, nothing happened as NAB could not arrest those who had been accused of plunder, adding that it was a heart-wrenching story.

The summit was attended by federal ministers, foreign delegates, ambassadors, Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir, experts, relevant authorities and investors.

The prime minister further regretted that the previous governments should have dedicated themselves to the welfare of the poor people of Pakistan.

He also praised the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the financial support worth $2 billion which also helped in reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

The premier further said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia always stood together through thick and thin and supported each other at every forum.

The prime minister said the present government focuses on building a strong nation.

He reiterated that Pakistan was keen to maintain friendly ties with all the countries for the mutual benefit of its people.

Read Understanding SIFC

Without naming India, he maintained that they were ready to talk to the country’s neighbours, if there were serious matters on the table as wars were no solution to issues.

The prime minister said three wars were imposed on Pakistan during the last 75 years and said these had generated more poverty and a lack of resources which otherwise, had been spent on the development and prosperity of their people.

“The neighbours have to understand that unless abnormalities are removed, normalcy cannot take place and the serious issues should be addressed through serious discussions,” he emphasised.

The prime minister said that the incumbent government would complete its term in the current month.

The society had been bitterly divided, he said, adding unless they show unity and discipline, they could not succeed in their efforts, he added.

The prime minister referring to the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), said the body was set up for the first time in the country and includes all the stakeholders that would collaborate and facilitate the execution of the development projects.

On the occasions, different speakers including foreign delegates also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the need for the exploration of natural resources of Pakistan by utilising the latest technologies and offered different suggestions and proposals for facilitation to lure foreign investments.

Pakistan’s new SIFC — a hybrid civil-military forum — has in principle approved 28 projects worth billions of dollars that would be offered to Gulf countries for investment, including the construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam and mining operations at Reko Diq in Balochistan’s Chagai district.

The list of the approved projects suggests that if all the schemes are picked up by countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, the quantum of investment under the SIFC banner can be greater than the $28 billion under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Initially, the approved schemes are in the food, agriculture, information technology, mines and minerals, petroleum and power sectors. They include cattle farms; the $10 billion Saudi Aramco refinery; explorations of copper and gold in Chagai; and the Thar Coal Rail connectivity scheme.

The Diamer-Bhasha dam has also been offered to China for investment under CPEC.

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