Pakistan, US should invest more in bringing two peoples closer: Masood Khan


Urges Pak-US business community to partner in transitioning to new technologies
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Masood Khan says Pakistan and United States should invest more in bringing the two peoples closer.
Addressing the concluding session of a day-long ‘Conference on Diplomacy for Development’ at Houston, Texas, he urged the Pakistani diaspora to play its role for promotion of positive image of Pakistan in United States.
Ambassador Masood Khan thanked the participants for their valuable input. Discussing efforts being made by Pakistan and the United States to strengthen economic ties, he appreciated U.S. Ambassador Donald Blome for his efforts and also visiting industrial hubs in Pakistan, boosting confidence of the business community and promoting investment in Pakistan.
Discussing the availability of funds, Masood Khan noted that U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) was offering one billion dollar a year if the investors qualified by having required competence and credentials. Previously the DFC was reluctant to lend money if there was no American in any project. He also highlighted the role of International Finance Corporation in supporting funding requirements of the investors and the business community. .
Highlighting the potential and the role being played by Pakistani entrepreneurs, Masood Khan appreciated their contributions towards the growth of GDP in Pakistan, observing that they were doing a great job in Pakistan.
Masood Khan identified IT sector of the country as an important sector which, he said, was not competing with any other sector. “It has its own domain and dimensions,” he said. He also recounted manufacturing, oil and gas sector and tourism, especially eco-tourism, adventure tourism, religious tourism, hospitality sector as growth industries in Pakistan.
The Ambassador said that the American-Pakistani business community could help Pakistan in making transition to new technologies. He said that universities all over Pakistan were teaching new technologies to the students and preparing them to brace the challenges of the modern world.
In response to an observation regarding women participation in the development process, Masood Khan highlighted that the women of Pakistan were not only becoming part of the workforce but outcompeting men in various sectors of economy.
The Ambassador also called upon Pak-American entrepreneurs to use their networks for encouraging digital payment platforms to start their operations in the Pakistan.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Horst in her remarks acknowledged the successes being made by Pak-American business community and professionals. “The amount of knowledge and expertise is staggering. Your success is inspirational. If we could find a way to harness these ideas and the goodwill that you have shared, I am confident that we would be able to find a future which is better for both Pakistan and the United States” Ms. Horst said.
Ambassador Masood Khan thanked the organizers for arranging an extremely important session and said that the valuable input by the participants would help facilitating Pak-American business community and strengthening trade ties with the United States.
Meanwhile urging Pakistani-Americans to scale up their investments in the country, Ambassador Masood Khan has said that “Pakistan is witnessing economic and digital revolution with its tech-savvy youth, new sectors of economy opening up and the womenfolk joining its workforce.”
Highlighting rich natural resources of the country and the huge investment opportunities in multiple sectors of the economy, he observed that “Pakistan is a treasure trove.”
Addressing a session on ‘Investment Opportunities in Pakistan’ during conference on Diplomacy for Development arranged by International Academy of Letters USA, the Ambassador highlighted that time was ripe for the investors to bring their excess capacity to Pakistan and reap huge economic dividends.
Highlighting youth potential of the country, Masood Khan said that contrary to the impression of shortage of skilled workforce, the youth of Pakistan nowadays was equipped with the state of the art knowledge and expertise from leading universities of the world. “200 universities of the country were injecting new graduates into the country’s workforce. We have women entrepreneurs. We have women who are in the civil service and in the private sector,” the Ambassador said. “This is a huge transformation that has taken place,” he continued.
Highlighting IT potential of the country, the Ambassador stated that there were 127 million Broadband Subscribers in the country.
“Those who go back to the country from the United States and other parts of the world, they must have noticed that there is a digital revolution underway in Pakistan,” he said. Masood Khan said that the blueprint for Pakistan’s rise as an economic power was there and it was unfolding.
The Ambassador highlighted that unicorn companies across the world including US, UK, UAE and China were supporting start-up business ecosystem in Pakistan. The tech startups market was bullish, observed the Ambassador. Recounting major areas of investments by Pakistani-Americans, Masood Khan noted medical transcription, billing, telemedicine, digital banking, FinTech where investors from the United States were investing in the country.
“Pakistani Americans are investing heavily in Pakistan. All you need to do is to scale up your investments,” he said. The Ambassador also assured the participants that the Embassy of Pakistan and its Consulates would provide all possible support in connecting potential investors with the relevant organizations in Pakistan and removing hurdles in way to enhancing trade and promoting investment in the country.
Ambassador Masood Khan thanked Ghazanfar Hashmi, President/CEO • International Academy of Letters USA, Faisal Momin, President of the Ismaili Council for Southwestern USA, Aga Khan Development Network and other organizers for arranging the Conference and the session.
Masood Khan and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Elizabeth Horst jointly chaired a session on “Role of Trade Diplomacy in Pakistan-US relations”, during ‘Conference on Diplomacy for Development’ at Houston, Texas.
The Conference was organized by International Academy of Letters USA, Rupani Foundation and Ismaili Council for the South Western USA.
The session was attended by thirty five leading Pak-American businessmen, entrepreneurs, professionals and area experts who are not only undertaking successful business ventures in the United States but have been investing in different projects in Pak’s economy.
The participants shared their experiences of doing business in Pakistan and the way forward in further strengthening Pak-US trade ties. Renowned businessman Dr. Tanvir Ahmed underscored the importance of investment in education and health sector which he said was critical in enhancing productivity of the young population.
Dr. Azeem-ud-Din, a leading pediatric hematologist-oncologist in Houston, highlighted his efforts in promoting and projecting Islamic art. He emphasized upon the need for greater efforts to introduce Pakistan, its culture and its products to the US audience.
Muhammad Saeed Sheikh, President, Houston Karachi Sister City Association, dilating upon the important role of non-profit organizations in the development process, underscored the need for greater exchanges, especially trade delegations between Pakistan and the United States for building robust linkages between the business communities of the two countries.
Nasruddin Rupani, Chairman Rupani Foundation and the Ibn-e-Sina Foundation underscored the need for placing greater focus on ‘impact investment’. He briefed the participant about GB Invest initiative which aims at promoting investments in Gilgit Baltistan. Gilgit Baltistan, he said, could be a hotbed for impact investments with the availability of people, nature and value to make the area advantaged for developing innovative financial tools, Climate Change, promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.
Ilyas Baig appreciated the establishment of Special Facilitation Investment Council which he said was critical for improving investment climate and Ease of Doing Business. Mohsin Siddiqui, Oil and Gas sector expert, underscored the need for ensuring rule of law and providing necessary support and facilitation to businesses coming from the United States.
Ms. Mehnaz Zaidi highlighted the importance of ensuring greater female participation in the workforce and providing them with more opportunities to emerge as successful entrepreneurs.
Farhan Shabbir suggested that indigenous resources of energy should be explored for inexpensive energy. Another participant emphasized upon the need for ensuring necessary infrastructure and protections to the investors.
Ms. Maryam Khan, Ms. Sarah Sheikh, Ilyas Chaudhry and others also spoke on the occasion and highlighted existing potential and the issues in way to greater investment and strengthening of Pak-US economic relations.
Moderated by Sobat Khawaja, the panelists included renowned expert in energy and asset management Riaz Siddiqui, Shahzad Bashir, skilled in Management, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Governance, Start-ups, and leadership and healthcare expert Mohammad Shafiq Ahmed. Salaman Lalani, Pakistani-American Assembly member in Texas State Capitol, gave the opening remarks which were followed by moderated discussion between the panelists.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Elizabeth Horst, Senior State Department officials, Pakistan’s Consul General in Houston Mohammad Aftab Chaudhry and community leaders, entrepreneurs and members of business community were present during the session.
The participants echoed the sentiment that the diaspora needed to be a proactive partner and not the spectator in the economic development of Pakistan. The participants noted that despite economic constraints during recent times, Pakistan presented itself as an attractive destination for investment. The presence of abundant natural resources and 60% young population was an asset for Pakistan which needed to be harnessed.
It was pointed out that Per capita GDP of Pakistan needed to be increased exponentially. This was possible only by enhancing the investments by both public and private sector. The panelists were of the view that a focused approach on import substitution with adequate incentives to the local manufacturers would create job opportunities and help the economy to grow.
The Ambassador thanked the panelists for informed discussion and giving valuable suggestions for enhancing investment in Pakistan.