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ISLAMABAD: President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi on Saturday said that Pakistan's proactive approach to prepare itself for the technology-focused fourth industrial revolution would lead it towards becoming an economically strong nation.

"A brilliant future lies ahead for Pakistan if it timely jumps on the 'technological bandwagon', which is expected to ensure an exponential progress by 30 times," the president said in an interview with Islamabad Security Dialogue.

President Alvi said he strongly believed that there was no limit to Pakistan's economic growth after it gets a stronghold in domains of cyber security, artificial intelligence and computing.

He said Pakistan was capable of meeting the challenges of cyber defence, adding that "with right direction, even small countries become unicorns within less than a decade". He expressed optimism that Pakistan, in the next decade, would turn into a "geo-economic hub" and become one of the strongest countries in the world in terms of economic stability.

Dr Alvi pointed out that Pakistan's earlier geo-strategic strategy had been "imposed" on it in view of India as a belligerent neighbour, committing atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir for the last seven decades.

He regretted that the United Nations had still not conformed to its promised resolutions on Kashmir and the world ignored India's "so-called peaceful" nuclear capability besides its recent episodes of illegal uranium sale. He said the foreign media did not pick up the real issues concerned with Pakistan, but maintained a stereotype understanding about the country. Pakistan, he said, for long suffered the imposition of a security situation regarding the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan followed by the United States and the presence of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. The president said the situation led to Pakistan's hosting of over 3.5 million Afghan refugees, which he said, was an exemplary gesture of kindness contrary to the "champions of human rights" that refused the migrants to let them drown in Mediterranean Sea. "Pakistan has done wonders to its own psyche with this natural moral strength. The nations are built not from resources, but by their intellect, smartness and strength of character," he said. President Alvi said Pakistani nation had rose resilient after defeating terrorism and suffering 70,000 casualties and an economic loss of $130 billion.

"All ingredients for Pakistan's beautiful future are in place and the stars of fortune aligned," he said, when asked about where he saw the country in the next 10 years.

The president emphasised on ensuring online access to knowledge instead of the conventional brick-and-mortar setups, as a fast mode to progress and development.

By switching to internet-based education, he said, Pakistan could catapult itself by raising qualified professionals of world class standards. He recalled that Pakistan in the 80s and 90s suffered a huge brain drain and stressed that the future strategy should be on diverting the energies of talent towards first serving the homeland. On overcoming the Covid-19 situation, he said compassion for the poor was the primary focus which restrained the government from imposing a complete lockdown. Despite limited resources, he said, "smart thinking" based on empathy and involvement of Ulema and the media to spread the message of precautions helped the country achieve remarkable success against the virus.

The president said Pakistan was witnessing a real change in line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan of eliminating corruption and implementing measures of austerity. "The nation has been given an attitudinal direction of austerity. Unless we tighten our own belts, how can we ask the poor to cut their expenses and demand the international community to help us in poverty alleviation," he said.

On Pakistan's steps against climate change, he said plantation and conservation of natural resources including water was the need of the hour to revert the damaging impact of human footprint on environment. He stressed the need for an effective strategy in order to ensure conservation of natural habitat amid the growing influx of tourists.

The president said concerted efforts were required to address the challenges of population control, neonatal mortality, nutrition and stunting.


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