|Standing tall: Minar-e-Pakistan symbolises the place where the Pakistan resolution was adopted on March 23, 1940. — Photo courtesy of the Pakistani Embassy
To mark the 75th National Day of Pakistan, I would like to congratulate the Pakistani diaspora living and working in Viet Nam. The date has its significance etched into the annals of history. On March 23, 1940, the Muslims of the subcontinent adopted a resolution that they needed a separate home-land. Seven years later, after heroic struggle, Pakistan came into being on August 14, 1947.
Pakistan has come a long way since then. It is the 44th largest economy of the world and has a population of about 200 million. Those between 20 and 45 years comprise 55 per cent of the people. Pakistan is the eleventh largest wheat producer in the world, the twelfth largest rice producer and fifth largest producer of milk. It also has the second largest salt mine and fifth largest gold mine in the world.
Today's Pakistan bears no resemblance to that of yesteryear, when the scourge of militancy did not exist in our society. The menace of intolerance came to light after the Afghanistan war of the 1980s. Since its end in 1989, Pakistan has faced the tremendous side-effects of those turbulent years with great determination by supporting the world against terrorism.
In the last 10 years, Pakistan has sacrificed 55,000 civilians and 6,000 security personnel. Economically, it has lost US$ 100 billion. We are slowly seeing results. The militants have shown their desire to talk peace with the government.
Pakistan has risen to challenge of development. In the last 10 months, foreign direct investment (FDI) has increased by 17.9 per cent to reach US$700 million. The oil and gas exploration sector emerged as the biggest recipient of FDI with $296.2 million.I can assure you that Pakistan is fully geared for much more foreign investment.
The Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) has ranked Pakistan second in term of business growth, just behind Taiwan. Seventy per cent of Japanese investors in Pakistan forecast further improvement in their business during 2014.
Jim O' Neil, a leading British economist, has predicted that with the present growth rate, Pakistan has the potential to become the eighteenth largest economy in the world by 2050 with a GDP of $3 trillion. Pakistan has posted a growth rate of over five per cent in recent months. As of today, the Pakistani rupees stands at 98 to one US dollar.
The government is striving to reform its institutions and has put merit at the forefront of its policies for good governance. Pakistan is a destination for tourism because of its rich culture, heritage and exemplary hospitality.
Pakistan-Viet Nam relations have achieved much in the last decade. Bilateral trade stands at $500 million as of now. We will hold the inaugural round of bilateral political consultations in July and the third round of the Joint Trade Commission. The second round of the Joint Working Group will be held in the third quarter.
Both sides are also working towards signing an air-services agreement, which would open-up avenues for businessmen in both countries. All these developments indicate that Pakistan and Viet Nam are coming closer and that mutual friendship is destined to grow into a strong and fruitful tree in years to come. The business community in Pakistan is willing to invest further in Viet Nam.
Pakistan's leaders and people hold Vietnamese leaders and people in high esteem. Pakistan will always stand by the Vietnamese people in difficult times, as it did by recognising the Government of Viet Nam in 1972. — VNS