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Foreign Affairs

Pakistan aims to build stronger ties with neighboring states

Islamabad, Newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has pledged to build stronger ties with all neighboring states including Iran.

'Our priority is to talk to our neighbors and restore peace in the region,' Prime Minister Khan said during his inaugural address to the nation.

Many leaders have phoned me. We will talk to them and discuss how we can restore peace in the region. We should have better relations with our neighbors, he said.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran in his congratulation message to the new Pakistani Prime minister had earlier said that Iran is ready to expand ties and cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan in his address pledged that his government would cut spending, launch sweeping reforms and take austerity measures that affect the welfare of the nation.

In his wide-ranging speech, the Prime Minister announced a number of measures aimed at austerity, getting rid of loans, domestic resource mobilization and reforms in education, health and agriculture sectors.

Referring to the prevailing conditions, he said economic difficulties were not as bad in the history of the country as these are today. The debt burden increased from 6,000 billion rupees to 28,000 billion rupees during the last ten years.

He said in the past, Pakistan had to secure two billion dollar loan annually to pay back its debt. 'Today we have to take two billion dollars every month to pay back just interest on loans obtained in the past.

'No country can progress through loans. The loan can be acquired for a short period. We cannot last forever through loans. When we get loans, we compromise our national self respect and integrity.'

'I will feel ashamed of begging to foreign countries. Inshahullah [God willing], I shall make the nation stand on its feet. We have to become a great nation. No nation can become great through begging bowls. We have to collect money from our own people,' he said.

He added instead of seeking foreign loans, his government would mobilize local resources.

'In a population of 200 million, only eight hundred thousand people are tax payers and we will have to make sacrifices to help the country stand on its own feet,' the Prime Minister said.

'We are setting up a high-powered Task Force to bring back money laundered abroad from Pakistan,' he added.

He said steps would be taken for attracting investment. 'We have to increase our exports as well. Our exports will increase when our government will facilitate all our industries to remove all hurdles for them.

'We are going to open new resorts every year to promote tourism in this country. We will develop beaches where our people could go,' he said.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA

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