Lahore: Punjab Chief Minister, Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has appreciated the renewed US focus on enhancing economic cooperation with Pakistan. He pointed out that this was very much in line with the PML-N’s long-standing preference for building economic ties with friendly countries.
During the meeting, the Chief Minister gave a comprehensive briefing to the US Ambassador and his colleagues on the initiatives taken by him and the far-reaching reforms introduced by the provincial government in many diverse fields. Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif said his primary focus has been on the economic and social sectors, as he viewed these as essential for bringing about any meaningful improvement in the lot of the poorer sections of society. He said his government had accorded special priority to ensuring availability of education and health facilities, even in the remote areas of the province. The Chief Minister said that while the Punjab government appreciated the laudatory comments made by international organizations regarding the performance of Punjab government, these had motivated them to work harder, in an efficient and merit-based environment. The Chief Minister also spoke of his firm commitment in ensuring an administration that was completely clean of corruption and nepotism and this was proven by instances such as the selection and appointment of thousands of teachers and health workers in a manner that had earned the Punjab government high praise from many NGOs.
Turning to the country’s domestic situation, Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif said that there were no short cuts to democracy, as it would take a lot of time and effort to nourish this plant. He said the history and experience had convinced his party that only by strengthening the democratic institutions and delivering honest and corrupt free governance, could people’s faith in the system be sustained.
Expressing his deep appreciation to the Chief Minister for his detailed briefing on the Punjab Government’s economic and social programs, US Ambassador Richard Olson emphasized the Obama Administration’s commitment in building a strong, cordial and cooperative relationship with Pakistan. He said that there was great goodwill in the US for Pakistan, as well as appreciation and admiration, for the huge sacrifices rendered by the people of this country, in the course of confronting extremism and terrorism. He assured the Chief Minister that the US would seek to enhance and expand its cooperation with Pakistan, especially in the economic and social sectors, as it recognized that a strong, peaceful and democratic Pakistan could play an important role in the region and beyond.
During the meeting, the Chief Minister was accompanied by PML-N leaders Kh. Muhammad Asif and Khurram Dastgir while the US Ambassador was assisted by US Consul General and other colleagues.