UK High Commissioner in Pakistan Calls on Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives.

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Islamabad, British High Commissioner in Pakistan Jane Marriott met with Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, Ahsan Iqbal, to discuss ongoing and future collaborations between the two countries.

During the meeting, High Commissioner Marriott congratulated Minister Iqbal on his appointment as the Federal Minister for Planning for the fourth time.

Minister Iqbal reflected on the Vision 2025 initiative, introduced in 2015, which serves as a strategic roadmap for Pakistan’s economic and social development. He highlighted that this vision was presented during a period of severe challenges, including frequent suicide attacks and an energy crisis that greatly impacted the country’s socio-economic sectors. Despite these hurdles, the government consulted over 2,000 experts to formulate Vision 2025, aiming to steer the country towards growth and eliminate social inequalities.

Minister Iqbal expressed concern that from 2018 to 2022, unfortunately Pakistan lacked solid planning and vision, which hampered progress. However, he emphasized the role of the Ministry of Planning as a key national and economic planning institution and think tank, committed to modernizing and aligning with global trends. This includes integrating talented individuals with advanced knowledge and introducing new sectors within the ministry.

In response to the 2022 floods, the Ministry swiftly formed the 4RF enabling the country to adopt sustainable infrastructure and strategies to combat climate change and natural disasters. Additionally, a framework based on the 5Es – Economy, Energy, E-governance and Digitalization, Environment, and Social Equity – was developed to provide a robust foundation for Pakistan’s growth.

Minister Iqbal elaborated on the 5Es framework, noting its role in creating a roadmap from short-term strategies to long-term plans, guiding principles for social justice, equitable resource distribution, and inclusion of women and youth in the national mainstream.

He also highlighted efforts to eradicate basic education deprivation through public-private partnerships, provincial cooperation to enhance capacity in education, health, and human resources, and significant budget increases for higher education. From 2013 to 2018, the higher education budget was increased by 108%, and within 16 months from 2018 to 2021, funds allocated for higher education promotion and modernization of universities were doubled.

The Minister noted the establishment of university campuses at every district headquarters, which provided significant opportunities for female students. He pointed out that at the University of Narowal, 5,000 out of 7,000 students are female. The government is committed to modernizing the higher education curriculum and skilling university students.

Moreover, world-class technology centers have been established for artificial intelligence, big data, cybersecurity, automation, and robotics. The Ministry of Planning has also launched the Young Development Fellow and National Internship programs to provide practical experience to the youth. The Young Development Fellow Program is a flagship project for capable and talented youth under the Ministry.

The meeting concluded with both parties reaffirming their commitment to fostering stronger ties and collaborative efforts for mutual growth and development.