Pakistan Prefers Trade Not Aid for its Development: Khurram Dastgir Khan
Pakistan’s Parliamentary Delegation Meets Heads of Groups and Committees in the European Parliament
A four member Parliamentary Delegation of Pakistan – EU Friendship Group headed by Minister for Defence Engr. Khurram Dastgir Khan met with several heads of Groups and Committees in the European Parliament, in Brussels, today. The delegation is comprised of members of the Parliament Dr. Fehmida Mirza, Mr. Shibli Faraz and Mr. Siraj-ul-Haq.
The delegation met with MEP Manfred Weber, Chair of the European People’s Party Group in the European Parliament. Mr. Khurram Dastagir briefed Mr. Weber comprehensively on developments in Pakistan in political and economic fields in the wake of consolidation of democracy since 2008. Talking about upward trajectory in Pakistan-EU relations the Minister said that the relations between Pakistan and the EU countries have further strengthened after GSP Plus scheme. The delegation also gave an overview of economic uplift and investment opportunities in the wake of CPEC.
Mr. Weber appreciated Pakistan’s role in fight against terrorism. He strongly supported the need to further enhance trade relations between Pakistan and EU, adding that EU always favoured stronger Pakistan – EU relations in all respects. He also evinced keen interest in understanding China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The Delegation also met with GSP Plus monitoring committee. The Minister for Defence informed the committee that Pakistan has always preferred trade over aid as a means for development and the expansion of trade between Pakistan and the European Union countries over the past 4 years since the grant of GSP Plus status clearly manifests this approach. He briefed the Committee on the government’s policies towards improving economy of the country.
Mr Khan said that the GSP Plus provided the necessary window for strengthening Pakistan’s economy. “With increased energy supply from the projects undertaken by the government in past four years and supplemented by the energy projects envisaged under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan will be able to fully utilize the potential of the GSP Plus facility” said Mr. Khan. This would also help diversify Pakistan’s production base and yield positive dividends for its people, he added. He lauded EU’s role in supporting Pakistan trade through GSP Plus. He invited EU to consider investing in Pakistan following positive economic outlook.
Senator Shibli Faraz said that Pakistan was cognisant of the challenges and was working to diversify its export base by pursuing various projects. Mr. Siraj Khan said that Pakistan has been pursuing democratic path and fighting the challenges posed by terrorism. Pakistan hopes for sustainable economic relations with EU on a long term basis and EU should consider sending delegation to Pakistan to broaden engagement, he added. Whereas Dr. Fehmida Mirza emphasised for stronger linkages between the parliamentary delegations.
The Delegation also held meeting with MEPs Jean Lambert and James Nicholson, Chair and Vice Chair respectively of the South Asia Delegation in the European Parliament. MEP Jean Lambert welcomed the delegation and said that EU is ready to assist Pakistan in bringing improvements in various fields. She wished well for upcoming elections.