Pakistan on course to economic progress, says Dar

* Minister underlines Pakistan’s firm commitment to peace, stability * Ruling PML-N determined to address economy, energy, education, extremism issues

LAHORE: The Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization, Senator Ishaq Dar, on Monday briefed the Canadians from various walks of life on the state of economy under the democratically-elected government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, and held out assurances that Pakistan was on path to economic recovery. 
In his address to a gathering of Canadian and Pakistani businessmen and entrepreneurs at an interactive session organised jointly by the Consulate General of Pakistan in Toronto and the Canada-Pakistan Business Council (CPBC), the minister outlined the bold policy steps taken by the Pakistan government to address the challenges of economy, security and energy crisis which, according to him, resulted in a promising outcome. 
Dar stated that the impressive macro-economic indicators, as monitored and assessed by certain international financial institutions, presented a picture of sustainable growth and economic stability for Pakistan. 
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), he added, gave a clean chit to Pakistan’s economic health that led to an engagement with major financial institutions. He further said Pakistan’s economic performance would enable it to enter the international bond market after seven years of absence. 
The minister assured the Canadian and Pakistani communities that Pakistan was on path to economic recovery, and cited renowned economist Jim O’Neil’s prediction that by 2050, Pakistan would be the 18th largest economy of the world. He was confident that it could be achieved much earlier with exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves and other natural resources. 
Dar also mentioned that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was committed to the 4Es of its election manifesto, ie, economy, energy, education and eradication of extremism. 
In his briefing, Dar also shared the good news about a significant enhancement in foreign investments due to the restoration of investors’ confidence at the back of strengthening of Pak rupee vis-à-vis US dollar and other currencies, high and speedy returns for venture capitalists. 
About the issue of security, the finance minister said the government was determined to deal with extremism decisively and eradicate the menace. “Pakistan wants to give peace a chance.” 
Dar regretted that despite Pakistan’s sacrifices, colossal economic losses and sincere efforts, certain elements were playing the blame game, and stressed that Pakistan was fighting the common enemy.
Speaking about Afghanistan, the minister underlined Pakistan’s firm commitment to peace and stability. He said Pakistan recently enhanced its commitment to $500 million in development and humanitarian projects, including a kidney centre, for which he invited Canadian collaboration. 
The briefing was attended by Canadian parliamentarians, Senator Salma Ataullahjan, MP John McCallum, MP Brad Butt, Ontario Minister for Research and Innovation Dr Reza Moridi and MPP Dr Shafiq Qaadri. CPBC Chairman Bryon Wilfert, Pakistan’s High Commissioner Akbar Zeb, Consul General Nafees Zakaria, CPBC President Samir Dossal and Ontario Economic Department officials were among the notable participants. 
Speaking at the session, MP John McCallum, the former chief economist, lauded Senator Dar’s briefing, and expressed understanding that Pakistan indeed was full of potential. 
Senator Salma Ataullahjan praised Pakistani community’s contributions to development and progress of Canada. She assured Ishaq Dar that Canada wished to work closely with Pakistan in diverse areas. 
MP Brad Butt also applauded Pakistan and its diaspora, and shared pleasant experience of his recent visit to Pakistan.
Minister Reza Moridi, while mentioning Canadian achievements in the fields of Bio-Science, ICT and health sector, said that from the political goodwill and cordial relations, Pakistan and Canada could touch new heights in their relationship. 
He said the trade was far too below the true potential that existed between the two countries. He also presented Premier Kathleen Wynne’s greetings to the finance minister, in which she expressed her confidence that the minister’s visit would pave the way for mutually beneficial increased prospects for bilateral trade and investment.
On his turn, CPBC chairman Bryon Wilfert presented a vote of thanks to Dar, saying the minister’s presentations were hugely informative and reassuring. He urged the audience to spread the word to counter the negative media coverage. 
The session ended on a question-and-answer session with the participants.

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