Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari today said that the present government took special measures and initiatives for political peace and reconciliation in Karachi and has always kept the doors of dialogue open with all political elements in the country.
Karachi being the country’s port city and generating most of our country’s revenue was crucial for the national economy and that is why the government moved fast to keep all stakeholders on board to restore peace and stability in Karachi.
He said this while addressing the 35th FPCCI Export Trophy Award Ceremony here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr.
According to prepared text of the speech, The President commended the business community in Pakistan for the continued good performance and achieving record export performance in 2010-11 despite the numerous internal and external challenges including the problems of militancy and law and order, Power shortages, Circular debt, global economic slowdown and the reluctance of foreign investors to visit Pakistan.
Today’s ceremony has been organized to honour the proud men and women of various business houses with Export Awards and was recognition of their efforts and achievements, he said and appreciated the generosity by the businessmen in times of national calamity including the earthquake in 2005, the floods last year and the floods in Sindh this year.
“Time and again, FPCCI has played an active role in attending to the victims of natural disasters”, he said and added that FPCCI was also involved in providing relief to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2008.
Spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar said that the President while commenting on the hard economic situation and difficult conditions, the government inherited in 2008 said that we were facing grave challenges from both within and outside our borders.
We were wheat importing country but the discontinuity in economic policies put us in difficult conditions resulting in huge energy shortage besides creating the issue of circular debt for the present government. He said that, however, the government while declaring reconciliation as the anchor of our policy has set out to address each and every issue keeping in mind the best interests of the country and its people.
The President said that businessmen should take ownership of policies of the government unlike the past when PPP’s policy to generate 40,000 megawatts of electricity through Independent Power Producers (IPPs) was put in cold storage, which led to the present power shortages.
The President expressed the hope that the government while following the policy of reconciliation will move closer to the objective of a more unified Pakistan, adding that he sees every one as a partner in our country’s progress and prosperity The President while addressing the gathering highlighted Pakistan’s bilateral relations and trade ties with the immediate neighbours including China, India, Iran and other trading partners of the world and said that our government has made regional trade a key priority.
“We have resumed the composite dialogue process with India and there have been exchanges of high level visits between the two countries with the Prime Minister of Pakistan visiting India early this year hence breaking the ice between the two countries.
“Recently India announced to lift its objection to the EU proposal for concessions to Pakistan”, the President said and added that we have also made great progress in increasing the number of items that can be traded with India. The President appreciated the business community as it has been extremely supportive in providing us with feedback on this issue of trade with India.
Besides India, the President said that we have also strengthened ties with our traditional friends, China and Iran and added that besides progress on the pipeline project with Tehran, most recently, we have made some good progress in relations with Iran by agreeing to allow Bank Melli of Iran to operate in Pakistan which he said would facilitate traders in opening LCs while selling to Iranian buyers.
On robust relations with the time tested friend China, the President said that he undertook eight visits to China for further strengthening our economic relations and commended the Chinese help in boosting Pakistan’s economy.
The government took various steps to strengthen our economic ties with Turkey, Russia and Central Asian states and mentioned that for the first time, a container train has been launched between Islamabad and Istanbul via Tehran which will boost trade with Turkey and beyond. “ MoUs have also been signed with Russia on energy, airspace, investment and Agriculture”, he said.
The President while highlighting the high level exchanges that has taken place between Pakistan and the Governments of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan said that talks on the TAPI pipeline are well underway.
Commenting on ECO role in promoting trade, the President said that the ECO is being emerging as a viable trading bloc and expressed delight that 16th Executive Committee meeting of the ECO Chamber of Commerce and Industry will be held in Karachi later this year under the FPCCI.
The President welcomed the FPCCI proposal regarding the ever changing role of commercial counsellors in today’s world and expressed his agreement that commercial officers should play a more effective role in pushing our trading interests abroad.
The President asked the Ministry of Commerce to compile a quarterly report on Progress made by Pakistan’s commercial officers posted in Pakistani missions abroad. He said that competitively priced manpower is one of Pakistan’s strengths which needs to be exploited to make Pakistan a lucrative destination for Investment. He also urged the Board of Investment to take notice of this point regarding competitively priced manpower and work more aggressively to attract foreign investors in the areas identified by FPCCI.
The President said that the present government have consulted the business community in all major economic decisions, such as the Federal Budget 2011 and trade policy matters and welcomed every opportunity to interact with them.
He said that he believes that the input of business community is crucial in devising policy that is business-friendly and productive at the same time.
The spokesperson said that the president while commenting on current energy crisis, the President said that he understands the concerns shown over the energy situation in the country and he was deeply conscious of the power crisis.
He however said that resolution of the energy crisis is most certainly on a high priority for the government and we have taken some measures both short and long term for easing the energy crises which includes the signing of agreement with China for the construction of a mega project, the Bunji Dam in northern Pakistan.
He said that the recent steps taken by the government have resulted in easing down electricity load shedding in the country and the supply – demand situation have registered improvement in the country during the last few days.
The President assured the business community that the present government will continue to work for the welfare of Pakistan’s business interests in the future as well.
The President while expressing his delight to be with the business community on this important event of awards distribution organized by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) congratulated Senator Haji Ghulam Ali and all members for holding the event.
He also congratulated Haji Ghulam Ali on his recent appointment as Vice President of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry and termed it a big achievement for our business community as well as the country. He expressed the hope that this position will enable Haji Ghulam Ali to better advance Pakistan’s economic interests throughout the Muslim world.
The spokesperson said that the President appreciated Haji Sahib’s efforts for ensuring that the Headquarters of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry continues to remain in Pakistan in a situation where some members of the ICCI wanted to relocate the headquarters. This was a great service that he has rendered and we certainly applaud him on this achievement, the President continued.
The ceremony was attended among others by Senator Haji Ghulam Ali, President FPCCI, Leaders of the Business Community, federal ministers, parliamentarians, Vice Presidents and General Body Members of FPCCI, members of Trade and Industry, winners of the Export Trophy Awards and members of the Diplomatic Corps.
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