Joint efforts by all institutions inevitable for country’s progress: PM

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ISLAMABAD, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday, calling the IMF agreement a “breather” and a “moment of concern”, urged all the national institutions to make concerted efforts to rid the country of loans and put it on the course to progress.

The prime minister, in his remarks at the Federal Cabinet meeting chaired by him, said while remaining in their respective jurisdictions, the institutions should make a united effort for at least next 15 years to address the country’s economic woes.

He said Pakistan’s deliverance from loans required a vision, unity, hard work and sacrifice by the affluent people.

“If we opt this course, no one can stop the country from achieving progress,” he remarked.

The prime minister thanked his all cabinet members, particularly Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his team and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and the Managing Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF) for their respective roles to help Pakistan achieve the nine-month stand-by agreement of $3 billion.

“I pray that this is the last IMF deal. But this is easier said than done,” he commented and mentioned that the state-owned enterprises like the Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan International Airlines and others were eating up around Rs 600 billion annually.

He said under the IMF deal, Pakistan would receive the first installment of $1.1 billion in July.

He also thanked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for his role in the IMF agreement and offering his further role in the process, if needed.

The prime minister spoke high of the Chinese support during last three months by rolling over $5 billion of sovereign and commercial banks loans, which was unprecedented.

He said the situation would have been different, if China had not made the rollover. “The people of Pakistan should never forget this,” he remarked.

Similarly, the prime minister also thanked Saudi Arabia for committing $2 billion, and the United Arab Emirates and Islamic Development Bank for $1 billion each for Pakistan.

Calling it a teamwork, he particularly appreciated the role of Chief of the Army Staff General Asim Munir for his efforts to bring in the support of total $3 billion from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Prime Minister Shehbaz said during the remaining 40-42 days of the government’s term, the cabinet members should make efforts to leave behind a policy framework providing a roadmap and a vision for future development.

He said the whole Muslim Ummah, including the government and the people of Pakistan, strongly condemned another incident of burning a copy of the Holy Quran in Sweden.

“We demand immediate action against the perpetrator. Unfortunately, this is not the first time as a similar incident had also taken place in the past,” he remarked.

He also demanded of the Swedish government to take notice of the Islamophobic and hateful narrative against the Muslim population in their country.

Prime Minister Shehbaz appreciated the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation for convening an urgent meeting on the issue and said Pakistan endorsed their meeting and decision, with a hope that such Islamophobic incidents did not recur in the future.