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Foreign Minister Bilawal sees tough times ahead for ‘average’ Pakistanis

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said that the next eight to 10 months will be very difficult for the average citizens of Pakistan and we have to find out-of-the-box solutions and partner with the private sector and make strategy.

Without elaborating on challenges for ordinary people in the coming months, Mr Bhutto-Zardari, whose party is one of the main contenders to form the next government after general elections, said he is optimistic that Pakistan will overcome these tough times and move forward as it has done in the past.

Addressing the foundation stone laying ceremony of the FPCCI Tower to be built at the FPPCI House on Saturday, he said soon after the dissolution of the national assembly, he would invite the FPCCI delegation to Bilawal House to discuss falling exports, rising cost of doing business, high-interest rates, inflation and economic slowdown.

He, however, recalled impressive achievements in the last few days of the coalition government, especially in securing a loan from IMF and investment commitments from friendly countries.

Stresses on framing economic strategy with private sector input to counter challenges

He said Sindh has shown improvement in enhancing governance, service sector and transparency and these achievements have been internationally recognised.

Development works under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model have worked efficiently. As a result of this achievement based on an analysis of public-private partnerships, the Economist magazine ranked Sindh’s PPP mode projects as sixth in its list of the best ongoing projects in Asia.

He was of the view that the health and education sectors have also shown great progress under PPP mode.

He said Karachi has a huge growing population and the government cannot keep up with the pace in providing basic utilities, sanitation, water, infrastructure etc. Through a mechanism, these issues can be resolved with the help of public-private partnerships.

“There’s a lot more that we can achieve together if the government partners with the private sector. Even to solve the problems of a big city like Karachi, we have to work together,” he added.

He said the progress of the country is impossible without facilitating the business community, as the journey of economic stability cannot be established without the promotion of trade.

Effective economic diplomacy can contribute to sustained economic growth, stabilise self-sustaining growth trajectory, and expand commerce. The global economic landscape is constantly evolving.

“I have always advocated that businessmen and women possess unique qualities that make them effective ambassadors in certain contexts. Their expertise in international trade, commerce and business enables them to bridge gaps between nations and foster economic cooperation,” he added.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that he believes that business people can find ways to connect and form strong economic partnerships, promoting cross-border investments which can sustain geopolitical shocks.

“In Iraq, we signed an MoU between the FPCCI and its Iraqi counterpart and established the Business Council. You should all benefit from these arrangements,” he added.

He said that he was happy to note that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is making its utmost efforts to facilitate the businesses and resolve their concerns.

“I’m confident that our collective efforts will help us realize the dream of transforming Pakistan into an economic powerhouse,” he hoped. He said that Pakistan is a country rich in minerals and natural resources, while geographically it is also a very important country.

Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said he wants the FPCCI Tower to be completed in the shortest possible time and serve as the nerve centre for the trade, industrial, commercial and economic activities of the entire country. This is the legacy that he wanted to build, he added.