COLOMBO (Web Desk) – While speaking to the business community and journalists in Colombo on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan is taking head on the challenges of acute energy shortages and terrorism.
He said power shortages will be overcome by 2017 while the war against terrorism has almost reached its conclusion with the elimintation of terrorist hideouts.
“We are fighting a war against terrorism. In fact, now we have almost reached the end of the war. A very successful war which has dismantled the networks of the terrorists in the tribal areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan,” the Prime Minister said.He said that Pakistan desires good economic relations with Sri Lanka and vowed to take bilateral trade with Sri Lanka to one billion dollars in two years.
He said both the countries have good political relations but the economic relations do not commensurate with the political relationships.
Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan offers attractive investment regime to the investors and Sri Lanka could take full benefit from it. He said we will also encourage our investors to invest in Sri Lanka.
Referring to the economic turnaround made by Pakistan over the last two years years, the Prime Minister said the country‘s GDP growth has risen to 4.6% from 3%, and is expected to be about 5% at the close of current financial year.
Similarly, per capital income has risen by 12.9% while budget deficit has been reduced to 5.3 %.
The Prime Minister said tax revenue has increased by 30% while foreign exchange reserves have also witnessed significant growth.
He said Pakistan s economic performance is also being appreciated by the international rating agencies.
CLOSER MILITARY COOPERATION
Earlier on Tuesday in talks with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Nawaz Sharif called for closer military cooperation with Sri Lanka.Pakistan was a key supplier of arms and aircraft for Sri Lanka’s military in their battle against separatist Tamil Tiger rebels during the civil war that ended in May 2009.
The premier also expressed a desire for more naval exchanges.
“I conveyed our desire for more frequent port calls, participation in military exercises and defence seminars and training of military personnel,” Pakistan’s leader said in a statement following an official welcoming ceremony.
Sharif held talks with Wickremesinghe soon after his arrival on Monday and is due to fly back Wednesday after visiting the Buddhist pilgrim city of Kandy.
Sri Lanka sends its military officers for higher training to both Pakistan and its arch-rival India as well as to several other countries, including the United States and China.
The island’s closest neighbour India withheld arms and ammunition during the height of Colombo’s war with Tamil rebels, who have close cultural and religious links with the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Sharif said he was also keen to expand trade with Sri Lanka and was eager to invest in its sugar and cement industries.