Gen Asim invited foreign investors to explore ‘hidden reserves

Shehbaz Sharif says Pakistan has mineral reserves worth $6 trillion

Islamabad(M.Mudassar Iqbal)_Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Asim Munir on Tuesday emphasised the need for concerted efforts to revive the country’s economy.

Addressing the Pakistan Mineral Summit, COAS Munir said: “We must not despair. The government has taken all the institutions on board and ensured the formation of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC)”.

“From snow-capped mountains to vast deserts, from coasts to plains, what doesn’t our country have?” the COAS said. He further said that staying on the path of peace and prosperity was perseverance.

Quoting Surah Al-Rahman, Gen Munir said: “The sky is the limit if one maintains such common resolve.” He then again quoted the Holy Quran, saying, “The Higher Power helps those who help themselves”.

Highlighting the importance of the mineral projects, Gen Munir said, “The mineral projects are the key to the development of people.”

The army chief emphasised never losing hope and having faith in Allah and recited verses 155 and 156 of Surah Al-Baqarah of the Holy Quran.

He thanked Barrick Gold Corporation CEO Mark Bristow and Saudi Mining Engineer Khalid bin Saleh Al-Mudaifer, and other investors.

Addressing the ceremony, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called for exploring the untapped resources including the vast natural minerals and reserves and developing the agriculture, information technology and industrial sectors.

The premier regretted that the country’s journey of 75 years was dotted with bitter factors as they could not fully exploit the precious natural deposits estimated at worth $6 trillion.

“The day gives an opportunity to self-contemplation over a journey of last 75 years and the reasons which landed Pakistan into this situation with a begging bowl,” he added.

Elaborating his viewpoint, he said with Russian support, Pakistan Steel Mills was established during 70s while in Reko Diq a hefty penalty of $10 billion was imposed on Pakistan and if it was enforced, the entire country’s foreign reserves would have been depleted.

The prime minister referred to the Thar coal mines reserves and said these were being converted for the development of Pakistan.

The summit was attended by federal ministers, foreign delegates, ambassadors, experts, relevant authorities, and investors.

The army chief was included in a Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) formed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for economic revival in June this year.

The military’s inclusion in the body — led by the PM and also comprising federal ministers — is aimed at complementing the government’s efforts to deal with economic challenges facing the country.

The government unveiled an elaborate ‘Economic Revival Plan’ with a view to capitalise on Pakistan’s untapped potential in key sectors, fast-track the development projects and facilitate investment in a bid to steer the country of economic crisis.

The total liquid foreign reserves held by the country stood at $13.534 billion.

Last month, Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves got a boost after the country’s receiving the first tranche of $1.2 billion from the International Monetary Fund, under a shot-term standby arrangement approved by the lender of the last resort. Inflows from friendly countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, also contributed in the increase in the reserves.

SBP reserves had surged by $4.2 billion to $8.7 billion as of July 14, highest level in nine months, thanks to financial support from the bilateral and multilateral partners.

Analysts noted that that was the highest level of foreign exchange reserves seen since October 2022 and hailed as a boost to the nation’s balance of payments and investor confidence in the economy.