It would be an understatement to say that Pakistan’s economy was in bad shape. The factual position is that it was almost on the verge of collapse with the prospect of impending default. Thank God that this spectacle was averted with the conclusion of a new staff-level agreement with IMF worth $ 3 billion for nine months when the ninth review of the previous EFF could not be accomplished due to a variety of reasons. Dealing with IMF and securing a new agreement was undoubtedly a very arduous and excruciating undertaking which finally succeeded courtesy of the efforts made by the civilian and military leaders of the country and the support extended by Saudi Arabia, China and UAE. The PDM government inherited an economy in complete shambles. The onus of its resurrection premised on tough economic decisions in consonance with the conditions of IMF had to be taken to stem the rot and clear the economic courtyard of the rubbles strewn by the PTI government. The effort also entailed political costs for the coalition partners, particularly the PML (N). The focus now would be on consolidating the gains of stability achieved during the last one-and-half years and the conclusion of the agreement with the IMF. The focus now would be on consolidating the gains of stability achieved during the last more than one and half years and the conclusion of an agreement with IMF. When the Prime Minister says that the country has succeeded in wading through the most difficult times he is not off the mark to make this claim. His contention has also been endorsed and corroborated by the former Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Dr. Ali Awadh Asseri in an interview with Arab News by saying” Sharif faced significant challenges upon taking office in April last year, inheriting a country on the verge of financial default. Dealing with the subsequent political turmoil, a renewed wave of terrorism and a serious deterioration in Pakistan’s relations with major powers and trusted allies was also a daunting task. But he has been able to successfully navigate this complex landscape by engaging coalition leaders, the security establishment and key foreign partners.” In regards to building on the progress made so far and putting the country on the path of sustained economic growth whole-of-g-the-government approach has been adopted which for the first time has made the Army a partner in propelling the economic progress of the country. The establishment of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) is a step towards that end. It will comprise three tiers including a six-member Apex Committee including COAS chaired by the Prime Minister. The Executive committee will have eight members including representatives from the Army. Additionally, the implementation committee will have 5 members both from civilian and military leadership in addition to co-opted members including Secretary Finance, Secretary Board of Investment, Secretary Economic Affairs, Chairman of FBR, Deputy Governor of state bank and provincial focal persons.. The Council is mandated to frame economic policies that ensure predictability, continuity & effective implementation with a major focus on attracting foreign direct investment from GCC countries in the fields of agriculture, minerals, mining, information technology, and defence production. This important step is being complemented by the launch of the Pakistan Sovereign Wealth Fund and the conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with the UAE. The consensus between the civil and military leadership on the pivotal role of GCC countries in the economic progress of Pakistan according to Dr. Asseri has emerged against the backdrop of tangible progress made by the present government on economic, political, security and foreign policy fronts. There are no two opinions about the fact that GCC countries have been playing a crucial role in Pakistan’s economy by serving as primary sources of energy imports and foreign remittances. The ongoing economic diversification and regional reconciliation in the Gulf particularly under the Saudi Vission 2030 offer ample opportunities for Pakistan to attract investments from GCC countries as well as to export skilled manpower and tradable commodities to the Gulf countries. According to Dr. Asseri leading economies of GCC are also willing to contribute to Pakistan’s economic stability. The establishment of SIFC in the backdrop of the above realities and emerging opportunities surely augurs well for Pakistan. Dr.Asseri also feels that the most notable development in this regard has been the civil-military collaboration in the economic sphere giving renewed momentum to Pakistan’s economic partnership with the leading GCC economies. The Special Investment Facilitation Council offers a viable pathway in this respect. Its establishment indicates that Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders understand the risk of dependency on foreign loans. They are preparing to lay down a solid economic base by attracting investment from friendly countries. Yet another very significant initiative taken in collaboration with the Army is the initiation of corporate farming by the latter. The Army had requested one million acres of land initially. However, the Punjab government signed an agreement with the Army to allot 45,267 acres of state land in the districts of Bhakkar, Khushab and Sahiwal on lease for 20 years. The move has survived a legal challenge and the work on the project has started. Corporate farming envisages the use of modern technologies and agricultural practices and will focus on import-substitution farming to replace imports worth billions of dollars with domestic production as well as ensuring food security. Chief of the Army Staff inaugurating a model Agricultural Farm at Khanewal on Monday 24 July expressed his determination to steer Pakistan out of the prevailing problems reiterating that all Pakistanis have to throw away the begging bowl. He emphasized that the Pakistan Army took pride in serving the nation and was dedicated to the welfare of the people and the country. Alluding to the potential for progress the COAS asserted that no external force could hinder a country’s journey towards advancement. That indeed is very reassuring. Army becoming a partner in the economic development of the country is a very significant and propitious initiative that will help in raising the confidence and trust of the people in the policies of the government besides ensuring their continuity which is a vital element in leading the country towards sustained development. The involvement of the Army in the development process is also auspicious from the perspective that the Gulf and other friendly countries repose more trust in the military leadership than the political leaders under the prevailing circumstances. In my view Pakistan Army deserves unqualified gratitude from the nation for its role in defending the ideological and physical frontiers of the country and for rendering unparalleled sacrifices while tackling the security and existentialist challenges and now lending a helping hand in resurrecting the economy and putting it back on rails. The writer is a former diplomat and freelance columnist.