ANI Photo | Pak: Business leaders suggest PM Shehbaz to forge trade ties with India, reconcile with Imran Khan for ‘political stability’

In a bid to navigate Pakistan’s economic challenges, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif convened with the business community, aiming to rejuvenate the economy through robust exports. However, amidst expressions of appreciation for the government’s recent strides, concerns over political instability loomed large during the hour-long meeting at the CM House in Karachi, Dawn reported.
Acknowledging the government’s efforts, Arif Habib, Chief of Arif Habib Group, commended recent developments, stating, “You have made a few handshakes after taking the charge that has produced good results and progress on the IMF deal is one of them.” He urged the Prime Minister to extend this spirit of cooperation further, suggesting trade talks with India and reconciliation with jailed PTI leader Imran Khan as potential avenues for bolstering the economy.
“I suggest you do a few more handshakes. One of them is regarding trade with India, which would greatly benefit our economy. Secondly, you should also [patch up] with a resident of Adiala Jail (a reference to jailed PTI leader Imran Khan). Try to fix things at that level as well and I believe that you can do it,” he said, according to Dawn.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in response, refrained from addressing the political dimension directly but emphasized his commitment to economic growth. “You all are great minds of business… Let’s focus on genuine industrial and agricultural growth and double the exports in the next five years,” he urged, highlighting his vision for revitalizing the economy. Drawing inspiration from Bangladesh’s economic transformation, he underscored the potential for Pakistan’s industrial prowess to soar.
Despite the Prime Minister’s optimistic outlook, concerns echoed through the chamber regarding the feasibility of his ambitious plans within the current economic landscape.
Zubair Motiwala, a prominent industrialist, raised poignant questions about the viability of doubling exports amidst rising energy costs. “The prime minister is keen to support the industry by doubling exports and reducing business costs but it seems impossible in the current situation,” he lamented, pointing to exorbitant gas and electricity prices that threaten Pakistan’s competitiveness in the global market.
Motiwala’s presentation shed light on the pressing challenges facing Pakistan’s industrial sector, particularly the burden of capacity charges and the escalation of circular debt in the power sector. He emphasised the need for fair gas prices and a strategic approach to tackle surplus electricity, advocating for policies that stimulate industrial growth without exacerbating financial strain.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, while refraining from immediate responses to political queries, assured the business community of his commitment to resolving economic hurdles. “I would listen to you and make a plan to put that into action,” he affirmed, pledging to convene further discussions to address industry concerns comprehensively.
As the meeting drew to a close, the Prime Minister reiterated his resolve to engage with stakeholders across the country, signalling a collaborative approach to economic revival. “I would soon invite businessmen from all across the country to Islamabad and sit with them till all the issues aren’t resolved,” he promised, Dawn reported.

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