Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Friday urged businessmen to help the government in overcoming the multiple challenges facing the country and take lead in creating jobs and enhancing exports. Speaking to a gathering of businessmen and investors here, he said Pakistan was faced with multiple challenges and the economy could only make progress in the presence of political stability. He said common man wanted facilities of health and education, service delivery and resolution of everyday problems. He said in the last one year inflation went high in the country and at the international level, adding the inflation was acutely high even when he formed the government a year ago. He pointed out that political instability was cause of present difficult economic conditions. The last government broke agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and then the country was devastated by the biggest climate-induced floods of the century, he mentioned. The prime minister said the federal government spent Rs 100 billion – Rs 72 billion through the Benazir Support Programme and Rs 20 billion through National Disaster Management Authority – for rehabilitation of flood affectees besides the billions of rupees spent by provincial governments for the same purpose. Another reason of economic hardship was the rise in international oil prices and the substantial increase in the oil import bill, he remarked. During COVID pandemic, he said the gas prices were low in the international market but the previous government did not signed agreements for the purchase of gas. Shehbaz said International Monetary Fund imposed stringent conditions for its loan programme and still his government met all of those conditions and many friendly countries came forward and bridged the financing gaps faced by Pakistan without putting any conditions. Brotherly countries wished Pakistan to make progress and Chinese government and even their commercial banks rolled over the loans, he said adding the government sincerely tried to avail the IMF programme and the Chinese Prime Minister also cooperated with Pakistan. He credited businessmen with the continuous economic growth seen over the last decades, adding however, now a major chunk of the investment was made in real estate projects and high rises and the exports had come down. Talking about political situation, he said in the last one year the country had seen political instability and division in every section of society had shaken the foundation of Pakistan and a particular mindset was created which was harmful for the nation. What happened on May 9 was unthinkable, Shehbaz Sharif said adding Pakistan was created by Quaid e Azam with great objectives and millions of people migrated and reached Pakistan in battered conditions. Benazir Bhutto was martyred, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was judicially murdered and Nawaz Sharif was mistreated but Pakistan never faced such instability. He said our armed forces faced the enemy with bravery in the wars and now it was unfortunate to see that on May 9, barbaric acts were committed and monuments of ours martyrs were desecrated. Shehbaz Sharif stressed the country’s exporters to come up with innovative and unique ideas to boost exports which would ultimately help the country earn valuable foreign exchanges. “Despite various challenges, we have very robust, very futuristic, and extremely hardworking entrepreneurs that have gradually built Pakistan’s export culture,” he said while addressing a ceremony at the Textile Expo here. He said with genuine government support combined with the entrepreneurs’ extraordinary intellect and hard work, the provision of quality export goods to foreign customers would be ensured. Welcoming the foreign delegates, the PM said he was happy to learn that over 400 foreign delegates from 60 countries were visiting on the occasion showed Pakistan was a valuable destination for foreign guests, buyers, and traders. Shehbaz Sharif also appreciated the industrialists, exporters, and experts who had contributed immensely to promoting Pakistan’s textile and leather exports. He said Pakistan’s industry had now been transformed and converted to air jet looms, ginning, spinning, and waving. Commerce Minister, Secretary Commerce, and Zubair Motiwala, he said had done a commendable job by arranging this expo which would help promote the country’s exports. The PM said the textile sector constituted 60% of total exports while 40% labour force was absorbed in this sector. “It is no doubt one of the largest sectors of Pakistan’s economy,” he added. He pointed out that despite financial challenges and other difficulties, the government was committed to providing genuine support to all the export sectors including textile, leather, and sports to help increase the country’s export volume.