ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister’s Adviser on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain on Friday said India and Pakistan had a trade potential of $37 billion which could be proved a powerful engine for the shared prosperity and reducing inequalities in the region.
He was speaking at the concluding ceremony of the four-day 21st sustainable development conference hosted by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Talking about the bilateral relations, Dr Hussain suggested improving the barter system between the two countries to improve the status of producers and consumers.
“We are going to enter the 4th industrial revolution, therefore, we need to invest in science and technology to tap its potential, and otherwise, we will lag behind.
“The challenge for us today is to invest in labour productivity in services and agriculture sector and for that we have to invest in human development.”
He said inequalities such as gender, income and social coupled with poverty were hindering development and growth of the regional countries. He emphasised the need to improve the quality of education in Pakistan.
PPP leader Senator Sherry Rehman said India and Pakistan had no option but to talk on all unresolved issues, including Kashmir. She said there was consensus among all political parties in Pakistan to have peace talks with India.
“We have history of starting and stopping the talks, and walk out from the peace talks would not help any country. Visa free corridors like Kartarpur can help bring peace to the region despite political differences. We must look at peace to harness the potential of regional cooperation.
Development can only be sustainable when it responds to the local and vulnerable of the society,” she said. PML-N MNA Ahsan Iqbal said: “We are passing through the age of digital revolution where artificial intelligence is reshaping the future of this world. When inequality is growing at an alarming level, we have to ensure that every single person of society has access to information and communication technology to fight inequalities.”
He added: “In this changing world, we should not be myopic but to adapt to the changes. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will impact the lives of most vulnerable people.”
He said under CPEC, through the Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan had started the knowledge corridor by partnering with 50 Chinese universities on programmes which were relevant to Pakistan’s economic needs.
SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said economic corridors, trade or strategic corridors can only be successful when we have knowledge corridors in the region. He called upon the political parties to reduce the political tensions and evolve consensus on the issue of public interests.
The conference had around 40 sessions where issues such as trade, peace, climate change, poverty, gender equality, left politics, SDGs, health, education, fiscal decentralisation, charter of economy, agriculture and role of the media were discussed.
Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018