PR No. 233 Islamabad: November 24, 2016

Minister Planning, Development and Reform Prof Ahsan Iqbal said the government has prioritized resolution of the energy, water and food security issues, which are at the heart of the Vision 2025.

He was speaking as the chief guest in a seminar on Water-Energy-Food Security , which was held here on Thursday at Arid University Rawalpindi . Prof Ahsan Iqbal observed that the world was being challenged by the climate change, which was equally true for Pakistan as well. He commented that time was running out, especially for Pakistan. If the issues of food security, water and energy are not resolved in the shortest possible time, they would further deepen the crises. “Pillar-IV of the Vision 2025 gives roadmap for ensuring the energy, water and food security, and the government has prioritized these sectors,” he said

While talking about the water sector, he mentioned that the government had procured land worth $1 billion from its own resources for the Diamer-Bhasha Dam and its ground breaking will be done by next year. He added that government is also working on different dams in KPK and other provinces  of the country to overcome water crisis.

The Minister updated the audience on the improved energy situation in Pakistan and said from 18-20 hours daily load shedding in 2013, it has come down to 6-8 hours “The biggest ever investment in the country is being made in energy sector, which is US $35 billion out of US$46 billion portfolio of CPEC. In last 67 years we managed to produce only 17,000 MW energy while in only three years we have been able to add 11,000 MW electricity in the national grid” said by the minister .

The Minister said the food security could be ensured through an ample supply of water and energy. He stated that inadequate food was producing stunted children, who were not only physically incapacitated, but also their cognitive abilities were adversely affected. “They will be unable to compete in the digitalised world where the competition will be getting tougher every passing day,” he added.

Speaking about Pakistan’s successful fight against extremism and terrorism, Mr Ahsan Iqbal said that in 2013, state was hostage to extremism and was on the defensive whereas now the extremists are on the defensive and the state on offensive. Giving economic overview of the country the Minister said: “In the last three years, the economy has seen a steady growth from 2.5% in 2013 to 4.8% last year, which is the highest growth rate in the last eight years. Our foreign reserves with $24 billion are the highest in the history of Pakistan. This economic take off has changed the perception of the world about Pakistan.

He said that the responsibility of universities is to become a place of quality research and innovation, strengthen linkages with industry, turn into agents of change, embed technology, and produce entrepreneurial leaders.  ”Young minds should use their talent to bring positive change in the society” said the Minister .

He urged experts to come up with actionable recommendations to overcome wastage in energy and water sectors and assured the conference organizers of implementing their recommendations.