In view of the financial crisis being faced by the cash-strapped nation, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir has assured the government of the military’s full cooperation for the economic uplift of Pakistan.
Addressing the National Seminar on Agriculture and Food Security at Jinnah Convention Centre in Islamabad on Monday, the army chief said: “Being an institution, we assured [government] of every possible cooperation for Pakistan’s economic progress.”
He extended the military’s full support for all the initiatives being initiated under the ambit of the Special Investment Facilitation Council, including the Green Pakistan Initiative launched today.
“Allah Almighty has blessed Pakistan with many resources,” Gen Munir said, adding, “We are a capable nation who has the potential to rise to the top.”
He emphasised the need that everybody should contribute to its development and expressed the confidence that Pakistan will achieve progress and development and that no power on earth can stop this from happening.
The army chief also said that they gathered to make Pakistan green once again.
Addressing the event, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Green Pakistan Initiative would bring about a second agriculture revolution in the country and would create 4 million jobs.
He said agriculture is the backbone of the country and farmers worked hard to provide food to millions of Pakistani people.
Farmers would be remembered in history as builders of Pakistan, he added.
The premier also said incentives for the agriculture sector are the right of farmers and it is the responsibility of the incumbent government to provide all possible assistance to them. “Farmers work hard but it is common knowledge that they are facing a lack of resources.”
The premier further said that growth in the agriculture sector would take Pakistan at par with the developed countries.
He said the progress of Pakistan is inherent in hard work, adding the green revolution in the 1960s was due to the introduction of new varieties of seed, the building of dams and canals and modern agriculture practices.
PM Shehbaz said farmers should get more profits than the cost of production of their crops including wheat. The government increased the support price of wheat which led to record production of the commodity, he added.
He is hopeful that due to the incentives given by the government, the production of cotton would also rise.
He said it is the responsibility of the government to provide better seeds, fertilisers and pesticides to the farmers and equip them with the latest technology.
The PM appreciated the new agriculture initiative for giving real-time information about attacks of pests. He showed concern over the adulterated drugs given to the farmers and warned of action against the culprits.
He praised the vision of the army chief for the development of the agriculture sector. “We have to implement the vision for agriculture through collaboration among federal and provincial governments, agriculture departments and research institutes.”
He said the government is ready to fund the agriculture research centres. “Unfortunately, research centres are not doing any worthwhile work and fall victim to the culture of favouritism.”
State-owned enterprises are losing Rs600 billion every year and bleeding the economy, he further said. “Pakistan imported $4.5 billion of palm oil which is a burden on the national economy.”
There was a time when Pakistan was producing more cotton than its neighbouring country but then it lost track and was now producing less of staple crops, he said adding. “Pakistan could not afford more foreign loans but is forced to save its economy from default by getting loans from friendly countries.”
The PM said Gulf countries are ready to invest in the agriculture sector and bring modern machinery to boost crop production.
“Pakistan needs political stability to attract investment as in an unstable environment, investors shy away,” he also said.
Pakistan could attract investment of $40 to $50 billion in the coming years and it could make food exports to the Gulf countries which are presently importing food products worth $40 billion.
He was of the view that Pakistan had to compete with the world and increase its exports and the economy of Pakistan would get revived in the coming two years. “It is the demand of our national security that the country’s food security and economic security should be strengthened.”