Dubai: Addressing the World Government Summit in Dubai, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday made a strong investment pitch for his country, advising investors “don’t miss the boat” as Pakistan goes on a business-friendly “upswing”.
Khan, a former cricket player, mentioned a wide-ranging “ambitious reforms programme”, which also includes various opportunities for businesses “to make money”, tax reforms, deficit cuts, tourism development, and a new visa regime.
“This is the time to come to Pakistan, when it is just going on the upswing. This is the time to invest in the country – and don’t miss the boat,” Khan told a huge crowd of summit delegates during his main address at the Madinat Jumeriah resort.
Attending Khan’s session were His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan; and Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
After recalling the history of his entry and rise in politics, Khan said his party Tehreek-e-Insaf eventually formed the government in the last elections, in 2018.
“So now we have our reforms agenda… we’ve started our ambitious reforms programme. We’re trying to improve all our economic policies, trying to cut down our fiscal deficit, improve exports, cut down our imports…we’re doing that,” he added.
Pakistan, Khan said, is already seeing “optimism and investors are coming into our country. We feel that this is the time that Pakistan will take off”.
He said Shaikh Mohammad had told him earlier “you must allow businesses to make money; investors must make profits. And the reason is simple… if they can make money, more people come and invest. So this is what we’ve done”.
Khan added: “We’ve started working on ease of doing business… we’re changing our tax laws, which were very cumbersome.”
He also pointed out that Pakistan has “the best tourism potential… Pakistan has probably one of the best mountain scenery anywhere in the world. Half of the world’s highest peaks are in Pakistan; we have 1,000km of coastline; the oldest historical monuments, as old as anywhere in the world; we’ve the Indus Valley Civilisation; ancient cities”.
Pakistan, Khan added, is also poised to benefit from a unique offering of “religious tourism”.
“We have the ‘Makkah’ and ‘Madinah’ for the Sikhs – the Sikh religion has its two holiest sites in Pakistan and we’ve just opened those sites for Sikhs.”
There are important Buddhist sites too and Sufi shrines all over Pakistan, he said.
“And we’ve opened a visa regime. For the first time in Pakistan, we have 70 countries which can come in and get a visa at the airport.
“What we’re doing is, we’re opening up the country; we’re opening up for tourism and investors.”
The seventh edition of the annual summit ends on Tuesday.