Pakistan is set to be a trade,transit hub for extended region: PM

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Pakistan is poised to become the trade and transit hub for the extended region.
The Prime Minister said this while addressing the inaugural session of the first two-day Islamabad Security Dialogue on Wednesday.
On the occasion, the Prime Minister also launched the National Security Division’s Advisory Portal connecting over 100 think-tanks and university departments in Pakistan with policy makers.
Imran Khan said, “Economic prosperity cannot be sustained without peace in the neighbourhood. That is why, my vision for the region is peace.” He said India must commit to giving Kashmiris their right to self-determination as per the UNSC Resolutions. Imran Khan said he offered dialogue to India when he came into government but unfortunately India took illegal actions on 5th August 2019.
He said Kashmir is the core issue between Pakistan and India and if a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue is found by giving Kashmiris the right to self-determination, it would be beneficial for both countries. He said that India must take the first step and create an enabling environment for moving forward.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan wishes for a political settlement in Afghanistan that can lead to sustainable peace. He said that peace in Afghanistan is the key to unlocking the connectivity potential of the region. He said that Pakistan is pursuing a national vision focusing on economic prosperity and human welfare.
He lauded the efforts of the Army, intelligence and civilian law enforcement agencies for playing a monumental role in the fight against terrorism.
“People think that if we only strengthen the armed and the security forces, it would be sufficient for national security,” the Premier said. Till the time people do not own their country, the country cannot be secure, he further said, adding that only the armed forces cannot secure the country.
He added that national security at present includes many aspects that have been ignored in previous decades, including climate security, food security and economic prosperity.
The Prime Minister said under his government, the country is able to fight a debilitating current account deficit, increase exports and Foreign Direct Investment. He said unlike before, his government is undertaking dedicated climate security programmes, including the internationally renowned 10 Billion Tree Tsunami.
Elaborating further, he said food security is also a part of a country’s national security paradigm as Pakistan’s population is increasing at a rapid rate. “We had to import four million tons of wheat just to meet the need,” he said and added that the government had made wrong assessments in providing food security to the masses.
The PM said that the economy is also a part of national security as a stronger economy means a stringer country. “The deficit in the economy affects our currency directly which increases the inflation which ultimately affects the poor sector of the country. No country can progress when there are only a handful of rich people and a sea of poor ones,” the Premier added.
Imran Khan said his government has prioritised human welfare through Ehsaas and Panagah programmes. He said, “We have administered the largest cash transfers in Pakistan’s history completely transparently.” Furthermore, the government has successfully managed the Covid-19 pandemic while protecting the poor. He added, “Even the world recognised our success.”
The two-day conference is being organised by the National Security Division (NSD) in collaboration with its advisory board comprising five leading think tanks of the country. The new strategic direction would be based on a comprehensive security framework in line with PM Imran’s vision of peace, regional connectivity and development partnerships with the world. Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa will be the guest of honour on the second day of the conference.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the provincial authorities to adopt a zero tolerance policy against land mafia in Punjab.
The Prime Minister said this while chairing a meeting in the provincial capital on Wednesday.
Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Chief Secretary Jawwad Rafique Malik and Inspector General of Punjab Police Inam Ghani and high officials attended the meeting. The meeting reviewed measures being taken for curbing the land mafia in the province.
Prime Minister Imran Khan while ordering the IGP and the chief secretary to launch an operation against land grabbers across the province said that the land mafia has become a menace to the society.
The Prime Minister also directed the use of administrative machinery to keep a check on hoarders which deserve no leniency.
The Prime Minister was presented a report on the actions taken against illegal housing societies.
Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and briefed him about the provincial administrative affairs and progress in development projects in Punjab.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the government is pursuing the policy of indiscriminate accountability and the supremacy of the constitution and law. He was talking to a delegation of office-bearers of various organizations of lawyers led by Advocate General Punjab Ahmed Awais.
The Prime Minister said the legal fraternity has a vital role in dispensation of justice.
The delegation included members of Pakistan Bar Council Shafqat Mehmood Chauhan, and Ishtiaq Khan, Vice Chairman Punjab Bar Council Amjad Iqbal Khan, and Chairman Executive Committee Punjab Bar Council Sardar Abdul Basit Khan, President Islamabad High Court Bar Association Zahid Mehmood Raja, President Multan Bar Association Syed Riaz-ul-Hassan Gilani, and President High Court Bar Rawalpindi bench Sardar Abdul Razzaq.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to form a multi-party parliamentary committee to review the election reforms bill tabled by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government in October 2020.
The current corruption ridden system has been exposed so badly in the recent Senate elections and needs an urgent change, said Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar in a tweet on Wednesday while sharing the Prime Minister’s letter addressed to the NA speaker.
“I would request you to immediately form an inter-party parliamentary committee to discuss these reforms and come to an agreement on how to introduce best practices including the use of technology and introduction of electronic voting machines (EVMs) to strengthen our electoral system and democracy,” Prime Minister Imran wrote to the speaker.
“I would also suggest a definitive time frame for reaching agreement on all these issues that marred the transparency of our elections so that enough time is given to institute the reforms before the next general elections,” said the PM in the letter.
He maintained, “It is in the interest of democracy in Pakistan to establish a credible and transparent electoral system and put an end to all venues that allow for corrupt practices that are eroding our parliamentary democracy.”
The bill tabled by the ruling party following the federal cabinet’s approval last year, proposes to bring a radical change in the electoral process of electing Senate members. It seeks to discourage horse-trading and manipulation; gives full mandate to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to facilitate overseas Pakistanis for exercising their right to vote; makes it mandatory to take oath within 60 days and enhances punishment for tampering with ballot paper.
Apart from the main suggestion of holding the Senate elections through an open vote instead of the current method of secret ballot, the PTI government had proposed to insert a new section – 213A (political parties to hold annual conventions).
This section will bind the political parties “to hold regular conventions and submit its report to the commission mentioning therein at least top ten problems of the country, reasons and solutions thereof, in view of the majority members of the party.”
The development comes in the aftermath of controversial Senate elections, attracting accusations of horse-trading as lack of transparency continues to cast a dark shadow over the upper house. – TLTP

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