Riyadh: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Monday here said permanent peace in Gaza was imperative for achieving peace in the world. He was speaking at the plenary meeting of the special session of World Economic Forum on the theme of “Rejuvenating Growth”.

He said, “The world will not be in peace unless there is a permanent peace in Gaza.”

As he talked about Gaza, the audience in the hall responded with resounding applause. He said the conflict in Ukraine brought to the world skyrocketing commodity prices and Pakistan could not import and procure vital raw materials for industry and agriculture. No peace in world without permanent peace in Gaza: PM “On top of that inflation is breaking the back of developing countries,” he said adding coupled with that, Pakistan faced devastation in 2022 due to huge unimaginable floods.

The prime minister said, “Pakistan is one of those countries which has nothing to do with the reasons leading to climate change. Our contribution to emissions is not even fraction of one percent.” Due to catastrophic floods in Pakistan, large swathes of land were submerged and millions of houses and animals were washed away and stagnant water brought water borne diseases all across the country, he continued. He said his government spent Rs 100 billion from scarce resources for relief and rehabilitation of flood affectees.

“We are grateful to the friendly countries including Saudi Arabia, Gulf countries, United Kingdom, the United States and many other countries for their support at a difficult time.” Pakistan’s economy suffered losses of 30 billion dollars because of floods and then it approached international entities in Geneva and other places and had to borrow loans at expensive rates due to the natural disaster which was not its fault, he mentioned.

“Our country was hit in a way which I had not seen in my life time,” he remarked. He gave example of his family to express his determination and resolve to put Pakistan on the road to progress and prosperity. No peace in world without permanent peace in Gaza: PM He said his father and his brothers were sons of a poor farmer in undivided India and they migrated to Lahore, Pakistan at the time of partition. With the sheer dint of hard work, in 1965 his father and family raised the largest steel engineering company in Pakistan but it was nationalized on January 2, 1972, he said adding his family stood up and accepted the challenge and in next 18 months set up six new small factories to avoid further nationalization.

He said global north and south were dependent on each other and had to work together to face the present challenges. The prime minister said after taking over rein of the country early this year, he was determined to put things in order. Talking about issues facing Pakistan, he said the power sector was in shambles due to massive electricity theft and an elitist culture was doling out to those who did not deserve it. He told that for the first time in the history of the country after getting credible input from agencies he removed high level officers who were not functioning well and had grey record. “Our revenue sector is in tatters and what we receive annually in revenue, we lose four times due to leakages in the system. Unless we plug loopholes we will not recover from our problems in revenue collection,” he explained. He said there were also problems of inflation and debt trap which was a “death trap”.

He said, “I acknowledge from the core of my heart the support of Saudi leadership for Pakistan for overcoming economic challenges. A friend in need is a friend indeed.” He appreciated UK’s Department for International Development for its outstanding support for Pakistan in sectors of health and education in the past. He said his government was going for deep rooted structural reforms and meaningful austerity.

Pakistan had a very young population – millions of boys and girls – which was not only a challenge but also a great opportunity. “Youth is our biggest asset and we have to provide them will modern tools and technology including education in information technology and artificial intelligence and vocational training so that they can become self earners and establish small and medium size businesses and contribute in the nation building efforts in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.”

Talking about his goals to achieve economic progress, he said his government would promote agriculture through modern technology and by providing best seeds and fertilizers to farmers. “A huge task is ahead of us and we have to go for higher exports and incentivize our exporters and utilize our mineral resources and fertile land,” he added. He reiterated that Pakistan could achieve its rightful place in the comity of nations with hard work and untiring efforts.