Washington – Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif kicked off his visit to the United States with an appeal to the Pakistani Americans to invest in different sectors to help their motherland in achieving progress and prosperity.
“The foreign exchange being sent by you is a backbone of the economy but now is the time for you to play a more active role,” he said while addressing the community members on the first day of his three-day official visit to the United States. “ You can help by investing in different sectors.”
He promised to ensure supply of electricity for projects undertaken by the overseas Pakistanis, in an apparent reference to lack of investment in the country over energy concerns. “If you want to set up a project, now is the time. I promise to uninterrupted power supply.”
Sharif is here at the invitation of President Obama and undertaking his second visit in two years since he became Pakistan’s Prime Minister for a record third-time, winning a 2013 parliamentary elections.
He apprised the Pakistani American community about the progress made in the last two-and-a-half years that has pulled the economy from the brink and short- and long-term plans to address the chronic energy crisis that had crippled the industrial growth.
Sharif said that LNG-fired power projects being constructed will add 3600 megawatts of electricity to the national grid by the end of 2017 and various other projects, including hydel, hydro, wind and solar, will completely eliminate shortages by 2018.
He told the Pakistani community that economy is growing and the government is aiming for 5 percent gross domestic product growth in the current financial year. Fiscal deficit has been reduced to 5.3 percent from a record 8.8 percent in 2013 and the inflation is at a historic low.
He particularly mentioned about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor that will result in $46 billion of investment in road and infrastructure projects and opened up new markets for Pakistan.
Sharif, whose government built the only motorway in the country – from Peshawar-Islamabad-Lahore — , announced to begin work on the another motorway that will link Lahore to Karachi and cutting the road travel to 8 hours from 24 hours.
The Prime Minister also told the gathering about a new gas pipeline project being built in Pakistan with the help of Russia, saying the project was of utmost importance. He said Russia has expressed desire to improve trade ties with Pakistan and the two countries were now exploring opportunities in various fields.
He proudly told the Pakistani American community that economic progress made by his government has been duly acknowledged by the international rating agencies which have now upgraded Pakistan’s rating to positive.
Sharif, on the occasion, also underlined the need for achieving regional peace by having good neighborly ties with all countries, including India and Afghanistan.
He also said that the ongoing military operation has destroyed terrorists sanctuaries in Pakistan and the menace of extremism will be eliminated for good soon.