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Arab News

Published Date: Apr 27, 2016

Pakistan minister gives details of ‘Economic Corridor’

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have reaffirmed strong bilateral relations as Pakistani Minister of Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal met his Saudi counterpart Adel Fakeih, minister of economy and planning, here Monday. Iqbal, who was in Riyadh to attend the conference on the late Prince Saud Al-Faisal, foreign minister, also lauded the services of Prince Saud as a foreign minister. 

The visiting minister attended a seminar on entrepreneurship development organized by the Pakistani Professional Forum (PPF) here Sunday.

The seminar, attended by Pakistani Ambassador Manzoor Ul Haq, was also addressed by Abdul Malik Mujahid, chief of the Darussalam publications and a senior Islamic scholar, besides senior office bearers of the PPF.

Referring to his meetings with senior Saudi officials, he said that he explained the details of the Pakistan China Economic Corridor. “We hope that in next 10 to 15 years, the PCEC will integrate south Asia, China, and Central Asia into one large economic market of three billion people,” said the minister, adding that the opportunities for business and investment abound because of this multibillion dollar project.

Asked about the need to uplift the people of Pakistan, who are below poverty line, he said Pakistan’s economy in the last three years has been in consistent upward trajectory. A report titled “Clustered Deprivation, ” prepared by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) with the financial and technical assistance of United Nation Development Program (UNDP) says that a large chunk of population lives below poverty line.

The SDPI measures poverty on the basis of five dimensions — education, health, water supply and sanitation, household assets/amenities and satisfaction to service delivery.

Further, a person taking less than 2,350 calories per day and earning less than $1.25 per day according to the United Nations standard has also been regarded as living below the poverty threshold. But, Iqbal clarified that the Pakistan government has defined new parameters of poverty, raising the benchmark further.

“This is the reason that a huge section of population has fallen into the poverty line category, but their overall conditions have largely improved,” he added.

Referring to the deplorable condition of Muslims, especially in the field of education, Iqbal said: “There is an urgent need to embrace knowledge today.”

Muslim researchers’ names are hardly found in global scientific journals, the minister said, adding that the Pakistan government has asked the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to devise a Strategic Framework-2025 for higher education to make it compatible with the worldwide evolving trends. 

“The fast changing developments and technology are redefining the paradigm in higher education and Pakistan needs to catch up with the changing paradigm through a new vision for higher education,” said the Pakistani minister. He noted that this strategic framework would provide guidelines for implementation of five years plan and other short-term plans in higher education.