TBY talks to Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, on relations between the two countries and how to further cooperate in the future.

Nawaz Sharif
Nawaz Sharif had his early education in prestigious schools and graduated from the famous Government College, Lahore. He entered active politics when he joined the Punjab Cabinet as Finance Minister in 1981. He also held the position of Minister for Sports. He was elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan and held the office from 1990 to 1993. He remained leader of the opposition in the National Assembly from 1993 to 1996. He was again elected the Prime Minister of Pakistan on February 17th, 1997 after his party won an overwhelming majority in the general elections. Pakistan Muslim League-N President Muhammad Nawaz Sharif made history in June 2013 when he was elected as the 27th Prime Minister for the third time by securing 244 votes in the National Assembly.

What efforts are Pakistan and Turkey making to further promote their economic and commercial relations?

Pakistan and Turkey enjoy a special relationship underpinned by a strong political, institutional, and popular base. We remain committed to translating this existing goodwill into a comprehensive, future-oriented, economically driven partnership between the two countries. It is reassuring that our respective private sectors are gearing up their efforts in consolidating our trade and commercial ties. The two governments should aim to provide greater facilitative frameworks to actively encourage the private sector-led process of economic and commercial cooperation. Our government is committed to providing facilitative frameworks, especially on bilateral trade, that will result in substantially enhancing economic ties.

Education has become Pakistan's top priority in ensuring equal opportunity and social justice. What is the importance of Turkish support and technical assistance in transforming Pakistan's education system?

Our social welfare agenda aims at providing human welfare by providing basic social services to all of our citizens. With knowledge becoming the key driver of socio-economic development in the 21st Century, education is our number one national priority. We are aligning our policies and strategies to allocate adequate financial resources, initiate institutional reforms, monitor effective implementation of policies and enforce an effective external monitoring and evaluation system. Our two educational systems have comparative advantages. Cooperation in education in the framework of bilateral cultural agreement shall be mutually beneficial. In addition, an increasing number of students are joining universities in both countries on scholarships as well as on a self-financing basis.

During the recent meeting in Ankara, the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu assured Pakistan about extending support for projects producing electricity, including coal-based and hydropower plants. What is your prospect for the future collaboration of the two nations in the energy sector?

There is a gap between our energy production and requirements. Through national consensus, we have developed a comprehensive energy policy with focus on producing cheaper and clean energy. New projects are initiated to produce coal, hydroelectric, and renewable energy. Turkey, with vast experience in the energy sector, is a natural partner for Pakistan.

Many Turkish entrepreneurs invest in Pakistan, especially in energy, infrastructure, engineering, and agro-based industry. Why is Pakistan an attractive destination for Turkish investors and what is your outlook for the future of capital flows between the two countries?

Pakistan is the sixth largest country in terms of population with an estimated ninth largest available work force. Our government offers a very liberal foreign investment regime in the region that allows, among other things, 100% foreign equity with no limit on repatriation of profit and tax holidays in various sectors. It is home to a rapidly growing private sector, leading a fast-paced, market-oriented economy. The potential growth sectors such as infrastructure, power, and natural resources are open to large-scale investments. We offer prospects of co-production, joint ventures with local partners, and joint marketing arrangements. We also provide exclusive economic zones and infrastructure subsidies as well as R&D support. Through a comprehensive reform program, Pakistan's economy has rapidly recovered and is on the path of steady economic growth. The Pakistan rupee has appreciated against the dollar, the Karachi Stock Exchange is at an all-time high, FDI is on the rise, and our foreign exchange reserves are improving. All these indicators make Pakistan an attractive investment destination. With the growing people-to-people contact through increased frequency of flights between Pakistan and Turkey, there is a growing interest in the Turkish private sector for partnership and investment. Vast opportunities exist in diverse fields such as energy, infrastructure, municipal services, and agro-based industry. We encourage the Turkish private sector to avail itself of these ideal conditions for trade and investment in Pakistan.