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ISLAMABAD: The United States and Pakistan have agreed to formulate an institutional structure and framework to communicate and work together in various sectors.

The agreement was reached in a meeting of a delegation headed by the Counsellor of the United States Department of State Derek Chollet with Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday. The US ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome and others also joined the meeting.

The Federal Minister for Planning said that Pakistan had recently experienced the worst natural calamity in the form of countrywide floods caused by relentless torrential rains last year. He told the US delegation that floods adversely affected 33 million across 94 districts of Pakistan and displaced two million households.

Iqbal said that the Government of Pakistan was working on short-term and long-term plans under the Resilient, Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Recovery Framework (4RF) for the planning, financing, implementation and monitoring of recovery and reconstruction of the areas which had undergone unprecedented floods in 2022.

Ahsan Iqbal said that Pakistan was working on a 10 years plan evolving national flood protection plan and taking tangible steps to cope with the challenges posed by climate change. He maintained that Pakistan had been facing multiple socio-politico-economic challenges and the government was focusing on putting the economy back on track devising the frameworks for short to medium-term to recover from the ongoing crunch. For this purpose, five key thematic areas comprising the exports led growth, e-Pakistan based on the power of modern IT-based technologies and systems, environment, energy and equity.

He said that the government was committed to introducing socio-economic reforms and agriculture is one of the major areas where the government wants to bring modern technologies for smart agriculture which was the only way to ensure yield instead of counting merely on production. Enhancing our productivity was one of our key priorities not only to avoid food inflation but to create a value chain, he said.

Ahsan Iqbal stated that ignoring the exports sector and relying on imports had been one of the key reasons for our failure on maintaining a balance of payments. He said that the current government is trying to divert orientation of our industrial and corporate sectors from domestic to foreign markets since it was the only way to earn dollars, increase foreign reserves and ensure a balance of payments.

Similarly, he said that the government paying a special focus on increasing IT exports since almost two-third of our population comprised the youth and they played a key role in bringing Pakistan as the third largest country in freelancing.

The minister emphasised that Pakistani youth had great potential and seamless talent in almost all walks of life and there are enormous opportunities for the US companies to collaborate with Pakistani companies which offer relatively less-costly services compared to India and other countries. Ahsan Iqbal emphasised that Pakistan had long been struggling to change its identity from a security state to an economic state, CPEC played a significant role in doing so when the world started looking at Pakistan as an investment destination.

At the same time, Pakistan in collaboration with the United States started US-Pak knowledge corridor which turned out to be a paradigm shift from our long-time strategic partnership to developing human resource. He said that primarily, Pakistan wanted to train 10,000 PhD from the top US universities in the coming 10 years.

The US delegates appreciated the government’s resolve to giving Pakistan a soft identity and focusing on improving the economic, energy, education, health, food and agricultural sectors. The delegation agreed to formulate an institutional structure and framework to communicate and work together in various sectors.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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