Minister for Interior Prof Ahsan Iqbal Thursday said democratic continuity and political stability were vital to economic progress and now was the time that in Pakistan geo-economics should take over geopolitics.
Speaking at the three day Pakistan Development Summit and Expo on the occasion of 70 years celebrations of Pakistan's independence here, he said, many countries like Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand went ahead of Pakistan because of continuity of economic policies.
“Then Bangladesh moved ahead of Pakistan in terms of exports and now Afghanistan can even go ahead as both these countries sanctified terms of governments.”
Ahsan said in Pakistan no Prime Minister could complete his tenure.
“Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto, Junejo and Zafarullah Jamali could not complete their tenures. This political uncertainty raises a question mark.”
Ahsan said in seventy years of its existence, Pakistan saw many ups and downs and lost many opportunities due to political shakiness.
South Korea whose leadership was still thankful to Pakistan for helping it with economic planning in 1960s, has exports of $ 570 billion as compared to $ 22 billion exports of Pakistan, he noted.
In 1990s, he said under the leadership of prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan opened up its economy and financial and telecommunication sectors by adopting policies of deregulation,
liberalization and privatization and started to build modern infrastructure with new motorways and airports.
The defining line between Pakistan and other countries was continuity of policies as we suffered from political instability,” he stressed.
The minister said peace and security could only be ensured through strong economy.
The minister said in 2013, electricity shortages were 20 hours long and the industrial activity was badly hampered due to power shortages.
The law and order situation had worsened in the country and no day passed without incidents of killing, he recalled.
Ahsan said then Pakistan moved ahead and last year it registered an economic growth of 5.3 percent and its stock market index touched the height of 54,000 points.
The pinnacle of economic activity was China's announcement to launch China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said adding four leading automakers declared to set up car plants in Pakistan and the leading countries once again turned towards Pakistan to look at
He cited the example of Soviet Union which had the biggest nuclear arsenal and massive Red army but it could not sustain itself when its economy went down.
Security of Pakistan was inherent in strong economy which could be achieved when democratic governments would complete their tenure to ensure long term policies, he emphasized.
The minister said, “We have to stop playing the geopolitics and start focusing on the geo-economics and join the new global supply chains.”
Now the landlocked Central Asian states like Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan eagerly want to use Gwadar port in search of new markets to expand their trade, he continued.
Ahsan narrated from a novel of Charles Dickens to describe the present situation in Pakistan.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of
light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all
going direct the other way,” he quoted.
The minister said at the time of independence in 1947, pundits were saying that Pakistan would not sustain and would fall back in the lap of India in five years as the country was without any
industry, education facilities and administrative infrastructure.
“When Pakistan started its journey as a nation, it was burdened with millions of refugees who crossed borders from India.”
“However, despite all the adversity, Pakistan's early leadership turned the impossible into possible and now we are celebrating 70 years of independence,” he added.