Pakistan Now: Darkest Before Dawn?

Pakistan is experiencing one of the darkest periods of its history. Political instability is eroding confidence in the nation's future. Declining economic growth and high inflation are hurting the people of all strata of society, particularly the poor whose numbers are rapidly rising. Is there any hope left for the country? Is it a case of the "darkest before dawn"? How do investors see it? 

Ex PM Imran Khan (R) with President Erdogan

Writing in the Time magazine immediately after the recent arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, American investor, author and commentator Zachary Karabell who has invested in Pakistani startups sees rare hope for Pakistan. He sees Pakistan where Turkey was back in 2001-2003, "when a series of elections brought Recep Erdogan to power even as he was repeatedly disqualified by a military that was determined to retain control". Here's an excerpt of his article titled "The Contrarian Case for Pakistan" published in the current issue of Time Magazine: 

"To some degree, this is an argument of “well, it’s not as bad as they say.” But it’s also a way of highlighting that Pakistan today may be a case of darkest before the dawn. With elections schedule for the fall, and with Imran Khan the most likely victor of said elections unless is his arrest leads to his disqualification as a candidate, Pakistan is in a very similar position to where Turkey was in 2001-2003, when a series of elections brought Recep Erdogan to power even as he was repeatedly disqualified by a military that was determined to retain control. Imran Khan has many of the same strengths and weaknesses of Erdogan, who after championing Turkish democracy and economic reform, then turned into the very type of corrupt autocrat that he had once fought against. But he nonetheless unleashed massive economic potential in Turkey and has left its 80 million people materially better off over the past 20 years, even as hyperinflation and Erdogan’s recent economic ineptitude is now eroding that. Should Imran Khan return to the head the government, he may well usher in a similar period in Pakistan, even as he has his own authoritarian and demagogic tendencies". 

Here are some of the key points Karabell makes in his opinion piece:

1. Pakistan has a real and dynamic private sphere that is not only seeing a start-up and new business ecosystem that has attracted hundreds of millions of dollars a year for the past few years but operates freely in a way that would be inconceivable in many other countries. Compare it to Egypt, for example, which receives far less negative attention and more foreign money yet is almost entirely dominated by a military dictatorship. Or Algeria. And then there are countries which barely function at all, dominating a whole swath of Sub-Saharan Africa but also dot central Asia (Tajikistan anyone?).

2. Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world with 230 million souls, a median age of barely 22 and two-thirds of the population under the age of 30. That means unlike most of the world, it has a favorable demographic future.

2. Unlike, say, Nigeria, where the ethnic divisions and decades of corruption mean that it well-nigh impossible to treat the country as one unified market for goods and services, Pakistan is one common market even with its various tribal divisions.

Pakistan Population Youngest Among Major Asian Nations. Source: Nik...

Karabell concludes with the following: 

Pakistan is on a cusp. We should honor the fact that whichever way the consensus believes it will go, the country is also poised to breakout on the upside. Which path will only be clear in retrospect, but we should pay more attention to the potential of things going right along with the legitimate focus on all that is going wrong.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on July 27, 2023 at 10:33am

Pakistan says newly formed special investment council to help CPEC attract investment from Gulf nations


https://www.arabnews.pk/node/2343926/pakistan


Pakistan's planning minister says looks forward to more active engagement with Arab states
Ahsan Iqbal Gwadar Port has handled more than 600,000 metric tons of cargo during last year
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s newly formed Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) would complement the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by attracting investment from the Gulf countries, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on Tuesday, as the South Asian country looks for foreign direct investment to overcome an economic crisis.

The minister expressed these views during the concluding session of a two days international conference on CPEC and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that was organized by his ministry to celebrate 10 years of the project, which was signed between Pakistan and China in 2013.

It followed the establishment of the SIFC by the Pakistani government in June this year to address the country’s economic woes by drawing international attention to business opportunities in the fields of agriculture, mining, information technology and defence production in Pakistan.

“We have also formed SIFC for GCC countries' investment into Pakistan where SIFC and CPEC are two twins, who will complement each other and bring opportunities to Pakistan from the Gulf countries,” Iqbal said.

CPEC, a major segment of Beijing’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, is a $65 billion network of roads, railways, pipelines and ports in Pakistan that will connect China to the Arabian Sea and help Islamabad expand and modernize its economy, with the Gwadar port city in Balochistan as the epicenter of it.

Saudi Arabia expressed its intention to invest in CPEC projects as early as 2019, when the Middle Eastern country announced plans to set up a $10 billion oil refinery near Pakistan's deep-water port of Gwadar.

Iqbal said CPEC was seen as a project that would help integrate South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, China and even beyond to Africa.

“So, we are very much looking forward to more active engagement with GCC countries, with whom we have very strong brotherly relations,” the minister said.

Through CPEC and BRI, Pakistan could promote cultural exchanges, educational collaboration and tourism between nations, deepening mutual understanding and appreciation, according to Iqbal.

The South Asian nation attract a lot of investment due to its cheap labour as most of the labor-intensive companies or industries were relocating to other countries from China due to expensive labour.

“Pakistan can benefit from it because it had a corridor, and it had an infrastructure, that is the reason we have fast tracked work on Special Economic Zones,” he explained.

Iqbal said the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif-led government completed many of the unfinished CPEC projects last year in order to revive the multi-billion-dollar corridor.

“After 2018, first major Chinese investment has come to Pakistan, $3.5 billion investment in Chashma Nuclear Power Plant 5, which will produce 1,200 megawatts of energy for Pakistan,” he said.

Due to the government’s facilitation, Iqbal said, the Gwadar Port had handled more than 600,000 metric tons of cargo in 2022 compared to 100,000 metric tons of cargo in the preceding four years.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 27, 2023 at 9:00pm

Mohammed Sohail
@sohailkarachi
Pakistan Stock Market is best performing in the world in July with a USD gain of 15% (see Bloomberg picture enclosed)

Benchmark KSE 100 Index at 20 months high to reach 47077

Todays volume of PKR 28b (USD100m) at 19 months high

The main factors of this rally....IMF deal, dollar inflows from friendly countries increasing FX reserves, falling inflation

Moreover, clarity on smooth transfer of power to caretaker government who will organise election in Nov

June quarter results and dividends are also better than expected, especially by UBL

Interesting foreign portfolio investors are back with net buying of close to USD18m in July by foreign corporates

https://twitter.com/sohailkarachi/status/1684528263710887937?s=20

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 28, 2023 at 5:06pm

Pakistan sets up center to boost agricultural growth with $500 million Saudi assistance


https://www.arabnews.pk/node/2333736/pakistan


The center will work in collaboration with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and China on various projects

It aims to enhance modern agro-farming in Pakistan by utilizing over 9 million hectares of uncultivated state land

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has established a Land Information and Management System, Center of Excellence ((LIMS-CoE) to enhance modern agro-farming by utilizing over 9 million hectares of uncultivated state land, a senior official said on Thursday, adding that Saudi Arabia provided an initial $500 million investment to set up the facility.
Pakistan, an agriculture-based economy contributing 23 percent to the GDP and employing 37.4 percent of the labor force, faces recurrent economic hardships. Currently, the productivity remains below par, with a decreasing cultivation area, a population-production gap, and agricultural imports amounting to $10 billion.
According to the World Food Program, around 36.9 percent of Pakistanis are food insecure, with 18.3 percent experiencing severe food crises. The country faces a shortfall of 4 million metric tons in wheat production against a total demand of 30.8 million metric tons, while cotton production has fallen by 40 percent to around 5 million bales in the last decade.
“As far as the high efficiency irrigation system is concerned, Saudi Arabia has already given us [Pakistan] $500 million,” Maj. Gen. Shahid Nazeer, who heads the LIMS-CoE, told reporters at a briefing on Thursday.
“Aimed at enhancing modern agro-farming utilizing over 9 million hectares of uncultivated waste state land, LISM-CoE has been established under the Director General Strategic Projects of Pakistan Army.”
The state-of-the-art system will revolutionize means to steer agricultural development through real-time information about land, crops, weather, water resource and pest-handling under one roof, according to the official.
The center will work in collaboration with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and China on various agri projects to enhance Pakistan’s exports.
“In the next 3-4 days, a very high-powered Saudi delegation is coming to Pakistan to explore this kind of investment in four major sectors including agriculture, mines and minerals, information technology (IT) and defense production,” he said, adding this would be done under the umbrella of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) that was recently established to revive the Pakistani economy.
Nazeer said the LIMS-CoE was aimed at ensuring food security and optimizing agricultural production in Pakistan through innovative technologies and precise, sustainable agricultural practices based on agro-ecological potential of the land, while ensuring the well-being of rural communities and environment preservation.
“The main objectives of the center included consolidation and reclamation of uncultivated waste land, optimal decision; what and where to grow, development of a master plan for modern farming, implementation of state-of-the-art agriculture management practices, practicing agro-intelligence for digital and precision agriculture, better utilization of technology to enhance yield and effective decision support system,” he explained.
The LIMS-CoE recently initiated modern agri-farming projects in Punjab, according to the official. Efforts were being made to use certified hybrid seeds with concurrent development involving joint ventures with multi-national companies, which could pay rich dividends. In agriculture and gardening, a hybrid seed is produced by deliberately cross-pollinating plants that are genetically diverse.
“Hybrid seed gives 30-50 percent more yield, world is using 80 percent hybrid seed, while Pakistan currently uses only 8 percent of hybrid seed,” he added.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 30, 2023 at 6:58pm

Pak Approves Projects Worth Billions Of Dollars To Gulf Countries For Investment Purpose


https://www.outlookindia.com/business/pak-approves-projects-worth-b...


In a major development, Pakistan has in principle approved 28 projects worth billions of dollars that would be offered to Gulf countries for investment with the long-term objective to reduce reliance on loans and imports.

The newly established Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) -- a hybrid civil-military forum – is leading the drive to fast-track economic development to address the financial woes of the country.

The list of the approved projects suggests that if all the schemes are picked up by countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, the quantum of investment under the SIFC banner can be greater than the USD 28 billion under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), The Express Tribune reported.

The approved schemes are in the food, agriculture, information technology, mines and minerals, petroleum and power sectors. They include cattle farms; the USD 10 billion Saudi Aramco refinery; explorations of copper and gold in Chagai; and the Thar Coal Rail connectivity scheme.

The initial project also includes the Diamer-Bhasha dam which has also been offered to China for investment under CPEC.

The CPEC is a collection of infrastructure and other projects under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013.

In order to give legal cover to the SIFC working, parliament already approved a host of amendments to the Pakistan Army Act and the Board of Investment (BOI) Ordinance.

Amendments to the Election Act have also been introduced to ensure the continuity of work on these schemes during the tenure of the caretaker government.

These laws will provide fast-track execution of the initially approved 28 multi-billion dollar investment projects, besides ensuring immunity to the decision-makers from any kind of investigation by various anti-graft bodies.

Another law, the Pakistan Sovereign Wealth Fund, is also in the pipeline that will provide equity to the SIFC-approved projects for both joint

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 30, 2023 at 7:05pm

The Mining World Turns to Saudi Cash for Critical Metal Supply


https://finance.yahoo.com/news/mining-world-turns-saudi-cash-115310...


(Bloomberg) -- A $2.6 billion deal announced last week has set the stage for a potentially landmark shift in the metal and mining investment landscape: the arrival of Saudi Arabia as a pivotal player.

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But Saudi Arabia offers something else beyond cold cash: political backing for companies looking to expand into the Muslim world as deposits in more traditional jurisdictions are depleted.

Canada’s Barrick has been in talks with the Public Investment Fund about a potential stake in its Reko Diq copper project in Pakistan, which is a relatively untouched frontier for the international mining industry, according to people familiar with the matter. Bringing the Saudis on board would not only ease Barrick’s funding burden, but also introduce a partner that has significant political influence in Pakistan, the people said.

Spokespeople for the PIF and Barrick did not comment.

Saudi Arabia’s deep pockets may also present some challenges for the biggest producers who are looking for deals of their own. Keen to get more exposure to copper and nickel, miners have started writing the biggest checks in more than a decade. BHP Group and Rio Tinto Group — the two largest — have just completed multi-billion dollar deals to grow in copper, while Glencore Plc tried to buy Teck Resources Ltd.

For years, the big producers have found themselves repeatedly outbid by Chinese companies when it comes to buying mines. China’s state-owned metal and mining companies have been willing to pay valuations that western firms simply couldn’t match. Saudi Arabia now seems willing to do the same, potentially putting some deals beyond the reach of the industry’s traditional buyers.

Executives at two of the biggest mining companies, which have spent years assessing base metal assets such as those owned by Vale, said privately that they were surprised by the price tag in last week’s deal, which valued the unit at $26 billion (RBC Capital Markets said it was worth about $21 billion.)

Still, unlike Chinese companies, Saudi Arabia is currently more interested in securing stakes — guaranteeing future supply of critical minerals — rather than buying outright and then operating the assets.

Saudi Arabia set down a marker earlier this year when it announced the new firm to invest in mining assets globally, with $3.2 billion for initial investments. The country holds an annual mining conference, which this year featured the CEO of the world’s biggest mining company, BHP’s Mike Henry, as well as the chairman of no. 2 producer Rio Tinto — a major step up from past speakers. CEOs from other top miners are expected to attend next year.

For mining companies looking for funds, the US and Canadian governments’ recent crackdown on Chinese investment in key metals companies has changed the investment landscape. That’s given an opening to Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia to fill the gap.

“Everything’s changed,” said Friedland.

“The American government has an ‘ABC’ policy: Anything But China. So the American government instead goes to rulers in the Middle East and says, “You should be giving the African people an alternative for financing mines in Africa. Recycle some of those petro-dollars.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 31, 2023 at 5:41pm

Pakistan, China sign six agreements to boost bilateral cooperation

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/07/31/cpec-pakistan-china-sig...


China and Pakistan on Monday signed six agreements for the promotion of bilateral cooperation as Chinese vice premier Mr He Lifeng, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal and other foreign dignitaries looked on.

On the occasion, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that “Pakistan is absolutely ready to contribute towards Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vision of the shared destiny of progress and prosperity.”

The premier made these remarks during the signing ceremony of six agreements and MoUs for the promotion of bilateral cooperation between China and Pakistan.

PM Shehbaz said that the documents signed by the two countries were aimed at further enhancing economic relations between the two countries.

He added that under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), more than $25 billion worth of investment has taken place in Pakistan’s power and hydel sector, road infrastructure and public transport.

Shehbaz maintained, “We are now entering the second phase of the CPEC which will envisage investments in sectors, such as, agriculture and information technology.”

He added that both ML-1 and Karachi circular railway projects are of immense importance, expressing the confidence that both sides “will successfully achieve these and many other projects”. He was also confident that this will help Pakistan stand on its own feet”.

The premier said both Pakistan and China enjoy a unique relationship, adding “We are all-weather friends, iron brothers and this friendship will continue and will not tolerate any obstacles in its way”.

The two countries have signed six agreements and MoUs for the promotion of bilateral cooperation. The first document was signed on the joint cooperation committee (JCC) of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the second document was related to the establishment of an expert exchange mechanism within the framework of CPEC.

The third document was signed by the Secretary Ministry of National Food Security Zafar Hassan and the Chinese Charge D’affaires Ms Pang Chunxue for the export of dried Chillies from Pakistan to China.

Member Planning of National Highway Authority Asim Amin and Chinese Charge D’affaires Pang Chunxue signed the fourth document on the realignment of the Karakoram Highway Phase II project.

Addressing the occasion, PM Shehbaz said, “I thank the Chinese president for sending his senior official to Pakistan, expressing the solidarity of people-to-people friendship between the two countries. This gesture demonstrates the strength of our friendship.”

“I have no doubt that we are entering into the second phase of CPEC. Today, we have signed some important documents which will enhance our economic cooperation, and we will undertake the second phase under a new mode,” he told the gathering.

The PM highlighted that the agreements would lead to investments in agriculture and IT, enabling Pakistan, with China’s support, to export items according to the requirements and standards of the Chinese government.

He emphasised, “The CPEC was signed by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and it was implemented promptly.”

“Today, we can claim that under the CPEC, more than $25bn investment took place in power, energy, public transport, and other sectors.”

He also expressed gratitude to the Chinese vice premier for visiting Pakistan as the two countries celebrate ten years of the CPEC. After the ceremony, delegation-level talks were held by PM Shehbaz and He Lifeng which encompassed multiple areas of bilateral cooperation.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 31, 2023 at 10:32pm

China to work with Pak to build CPEC into ‘exemplary project’: Xi



https://tribune.com.pk/story/2428624/china-to-work-with-pakistan-to...

BEIJING:
Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday that China will work with Pakistan to aim for high-standard, sustainable and livelihood-enhancing outcomes and further build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) into an exemplary project of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

Xi pointed out that CPEC is an important pioneering project of the Belt and Road cooperation. Since its launch in 2013, China and Pakistan have been advancing CPEC under the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and have achieved a number of early harvests.

This has added new impetus to the economic and social development of Pakistan and laid a good foundation for regional connectivity and integration, he said, adding that it is a vivid testament to the all-weather friendship between China and Pakistan, and provides an important underpinning for building an even closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.

Stressing that China and Pakistan will continue to improve overall planning and expand and deepen cooperation, Xi said that no matter how the international landscape may change, China will always stand firmly with Pakistan.

Xi added China and Pakistan will continue to work hand in hand and forge ahead in solidarity to carry forward the ironclad friendship, coordinate development and security, pursue cooperation of higher standards, broader scope and greater depth, and take the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership to new heights, so as to make even greater contribution to peace and prosperity in the two countries and the broader region.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 1, 2023 at 7:05am

Pakistan lines up Saudi-backed refinery as it eyes more Russian oil

https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Pakistan-lines-up-Saudi-backed-refi...

$10bn project in Gwadar draws skepticism but some experts see long game

A $10 billion Saudi-backed oil refinery project planned in Pakistan's port city of Gwadar aims to capitalize on the troubled economy's potential, and, sources say, lay a foundation for taking in more Russian crude.

Four Pakistani state-owned energy companies late last week signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Saudi Aramco, which will inject the initial 30% equity into the project. Once built, the refinery will be able to process 300,000 barrels per day, according to details released by the government.

That alone would surpass the combined total of 215,000 barrels per day of petroleum products refined in Pakistan in 2020-2021, according to a report by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority.

The quartet of enterprises -- Pakistan State Oil (PSO), Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL), Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL), and Government Holdings Private Limited (GHPL) -- also signed a memorandum with China National Offshore Oil Corp. for engineering, procurement and construction of the refinery. Gwadar has long been positioned as the heart of China's Belt and Road projects in the country.

Pakistan is mired in political and economic crises, which forced it to go to the International Monetary Fund for a $3 billion standby bailout arrangement to avoid a default. For this reason, some experts Nikkei Asia interviewed expressed skepticism about the refinery project, questioning the need for the additional capacity in light of the economic woes. Security is also an ever-present concern, highlighted by a deadly suicide bombing in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Sunday.

But some argue that the parties involved are playing a longer game. James Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, reasoned that although the economic situation in Pakistan is not ideal, the country, with a population of over 200 million, still has huge economic upside. "This refinery will take a few years to build and by that time economic growth is anticipated in Pakistan," he said.

The refinery could handle Russian crude, which Pakistan has just begun importing. With Ukraine war sanctions limiting Russia's export options and forcing discounts, a cash-strapped Islamabad turned to Moscow to bolster its energy supplies. Pakistan recently imported one shipment of Russian crude and is negotiating a second with a long-term oil transportation deal.

The secretive dealings have raised several questions: over Pakistan's ability to process the Russian oil, as well as shipment costs, and how exactly the government can pay for the fuel in Chinese yuan. Nevertheless, a Pakistani government official privy to the developments told Nikkei on condition of anonymity that importing oil from Russia has been a success.

"Pakistan plans to increase its oil imports from Russia, which would result in a need for additional refinery capacity in Pakistan," the official said. "The proposed refinery in Gwadar will possibly help refine increasing volumes of Russian crude."

The Saudis, meanwhile, have been eyeing this project for some time. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit to Pakistan in February 2019 brought the first announcement that a $10 billion oil refinery would be built in Gwadar. After a four-year interval, Dorsey believes Riyadh is likely serious about the project now.

"Initially the Pakistanis tried to integrate the [Gwadar refinery] project in BRI but the Chinese refused it," Dorsey said, saying the project can now move ahead outside the Belt and Road framework.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 4, 2023 at 9:05am

Pakistan court pauses Imran Khan's trial over sale of state gifts


https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/imran-khans-trial-charge...

ISLAMABAD, Aug 4 (Reuters) - A Pakistan high court on Friday temporarily halted former Prime Minister Imran Khan's trial on charges he illegally sold state gifts, his lawyer said, in a case that could end the opposition leader's political career if convicted.

A guilty verdict in the case could exclude Khan from national elections that are due to be held by November, legal experts have said.

The halt comes after the high court asked a trial court to look into whether a legal complaint filed by the country's election commission, as part of an inquiry against Khan, constituted a criminal proceeding, his lawyer Naeem Panjhuta and several local TV news outlets said.

Khan's legal team had challenged the commission's complaint, arguing that it was not a criminal case and that the judge conducting the trial was biased against Khan.

The high court, however, turned down Khan's appeal to remove the trial court judge from hearing the case. It is not known when the case will resume, though the halt is expected to be brief.

Khan's spokesman Farrukh Habib hailed the higher court's decision

The trial, which is in its final stage, relates to an inquiry conducted by the election commission which found Khan guilty of unlawfully selling state gifts during his tenure as prime minister from 2018 to 2022.

Khan has denied any wrongdoing.

The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician was accused of misusing his premiership to buy and sell gifts in state possession that were received during visits abroad and worth more than 140 million Pakistani rupees ($635,000).



The gifts included watches given by a royal family, according to government officials, who have alleged previously that Khan's aides sold them in Dubai.

His tenure as prime minister was cut short when opponents won a no-confidence vote against him last year, which Khan alleges was passed with the help of the country's powerful military. The military denies any role in the matter.

Khan's targeting of the military has raised political temperatures, and his brief arrest in May on corruption charges sparked violent protests in the country.

Reporting by Asif Shahzad; editing by Jason Neely, Miral Fahmy and Sharon Singleton

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 5, 2023 at 9:08pm

Pakistan opens National Aerospace Science and Technology Park to induce technological advancement

https://www.arabnews.pk/node/2349931/pakistan


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday inaugurated the National Aerospace Science and Technology Park at the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Base Nurkhan in Rawalpindi, his office said, with the premier saying the facility would help induce technological advancement in the South Asian country.

The NASTP would foster research, development and innovation in the fields of aviation, space, cyber and computing to ensure social, economic, technological and scientific dividends for Pakistan and its valuable partners, according to a statement issued by Sharif’s office.

In his address with attendees at the inauguration, the prime minister termed the National Aerospace Science and Technology Park a project of “national and strategic significance” that would reap multi-dimensional benefits for the country.

“[The] NASTP project would induce technological advancement and would make the country more self-reliant by providing a platform for the youth and our future generations,” Sharif said.

“The project is equipped with state-of-the-art design, innovation, research and development centers which would provide ample opportunities for foreign investment in the country.”

He praised the efforts of the Pakistan Air Force and its skilled personnel in achieving of the “milestone” in record time.

“[The] NASTP is a highly promising project that will leverage collective wisdom and would contribute to kick-starting Pakistan’s economy to bring it on a fast track toward progression,” the prime minister added.

The facility, under the patronage and support of Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), will enable the information technology (IT) sector as one of the key domains of the economic revival initiative, according to the statement.

Reeling with an economic crisis, Pakistan set up the SIFC in June to attract foreign investment.

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