The overwhelming consensus among the world’s rich, powerful and/or knowledgeable is that the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting at Davos truly remains the most important economic and socio-political event in the world calendar. WEF’s mission to “improve the state of the world” means engaging top global leaders to collaborate in shaping the global, regional and industry agendas. Davos gets your narrative not only heard but understood. Going there is important, to make it happen you have to be heard in public sessions. Xi Jinping became the first Chinese President to come to Davos, and that also with the largest delegation ever. Having less than quarter of Chinese net worth, India had been monopolizing and exploiting Davos for over two decades. Coming of age in the world economic order, its good to see the Chinese flexing their potential. With US President Trump in an isolationist mode, they will have many markets to themselves. Calling for more substantive inclusive development and cooperation in the face of US President Donald Trump’s protectionist threat, President Xi Jinping defended economic globalization at Davos. China’s most successful entrepreneur, Alibaba’s Jack Ma chided America for wasting billions on its military and very little on its domestic infrastructure. (Ikram Sehgal) WEF invited Gen (r) Raheel Sharif at short notice to participate in their Annual Meeting 2017. Other than the Pakistan Breakfast, Pakistan Lunch and Pakistan Dinner, WEF gave him an unprecedented three important sessions on the record and two off (not only Chatham House Rules but the names of participants not made public). He effectively countered the anti-Pakistan and anti-Pakistan Army propaganda in an emphatic manner, truly a game-changer for Pakistan’s beleaguered narrative. PM Nawaz Sharif individually held very important bilateral (and one believes productive) meetings with world and business leaders, very necessary considering our circumstances but public sessions are more useful. (Ikram Sehgal) * The World Economic Forum is best known for its annual meeting at the end of January in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland. * It took me two hours from Zurich to reach the picturesque Davos where a breakfast was hosted by renowned defence analyst and security expert Ikram Sehgal at 7am. * Foreign media and former envoys of various countries were present on the occasion. * The eminent writer was accompanied by Jabbar Khattak, Ghulam Nabi Chandio, and Masooma & Amir Mehmood. * Minister of State for Information Technology Anushey Rehman was sitting in the first row while Oscar Award Winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoi was spotted sitting in the last row. * ‘Digital era and challenges of terrorism’ was the topic of the event. * Ikram Sehgal, Zarrar Sehgal, Javed Akhi and keynote speaker former chief of army staff (COAS) Gen (r) Raheel were on the stage. * All eyes were on Gen Raheel, who was graceful throughout and approachable for the audience. * IkramSehgal introduced the former COAS by paying glowing tributes to the services Gen (r) Raheeland his family rendered for Pakistan. * Before the general’s speech, AnusheyRehman was invited to express her view, which was frankly nothing less than reading a handout of PM Nawaz’s economic roadmap. “Under the able leadership of Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan witnessed a sharp decrease in terrorism-related activities and a significant increase in economic growth. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has given a new hope to the Pakistanis and the government would ensure its timely completion so that maximum benefits could be attained. The government has also prepared a security plan in this regard and nobody would be allowed to thwart this mega initiative of national importance. I invite foreign investors to explore economic opportunities in Pakistan and take advantage of CPEC. The prime minister’s roadmap for development, upon completion, would not only steer the country out of crisis, but also help stamp its authority on world stage,” the state minister has said during her speech. During Anushey Rehman’s speech, a senior Gulf News journalist looked at me and said “hello” and before I could respond he stated, “I think the rift between government and army is stemmed from the amount of respect Gen Raheel and Pakistan armed forces managed to get from the public, a sentiment unwelcoming for the government.” “No you’re wrong,” was my instant reply.”The presence of both a political leader and a former army chief is to cement the fact all institutions were on the same page in Pakistan as well as to derive ways through which the country could be made more stable and progressive.” He said alright and passed a SARCASTIC SMILE. I knew what it meant. * AnusheyRehman’s speech ended and the mic was then handed over to Gen (r) Raheel Sharif. * Seriousness took over the ambiance of the room and pin drop silence made it clear that something in-depth and meaningful was about to be said, finally. * Interestingly, the state minister left the room as soon as Gen (r) Raheel Sharif began his speech, leaving the rest in perplexity. No confusion on the quality of bag she was carrying. “As many as 25,000 army officials and civilians got martyred fighting terrorism in Pakistan. It was the Army Public School, Peshawar, incident that proved to be a turning point, inspiring us to root out the menace of terrorism from the country once and for all. By successfully executing our strategies, the army managed to destroy majority of terrorists’ hideouts and sleeper cells. Karachi was 6thmost dangerous city of the world three years ago and now it stands at number 31 owing to the valour and commitment of the paramilitary forces. AnusheyRehmanwas absolutely right in mentioning that decrease in terrorism was a result of the mutual understanding between government and army. Pakistan acknowledges the Chinese support in CPEC and we would ensure smooth and unhindered working of the projects under the corridor.” * Session concluded amidst heavy camera flashes with international media seen wanting a glimpse of the general. * The host announced lunch at 12 30pm. During the break, I saw a restaurant with a huge billboard saying “Invest in India”. A lot of people were gathered to there for food that was free of cost. I thought and wondered if any such initiative was taken by the Pakistani government as well. Then I thought how can one take such initiatives while resting in cozy five star hotel rooms? * Before the start of lunch, the general was again asked by the host IkramSehgal to address a different gathering now. * Presdent EWI and former US ambassador Cameron Munter, who resigned from his office after the first drone attack in Pakistan, was also present. * It was nice to see EWI and Perot Group Chairman Ross Perot Jr also gracing the occasion. Ross Perot Jr’s father contested the American presidential elections in 1992 as an independent candidate. * When a senior ex-BBC official asked Gen Raheel about terrorism, he said it couldn’t have happened without the support of Pakistani public, especially the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. * He also confessed to the unending support of the political government in operation Zarb-e-Azb and termed the operation a combined success. * He assured that Pakistan is safe for investment and invited notable investors in look for business opportunities in untapped sectors of Pakistan. * Gen (r) Raheel also praised that incumbent Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, saying that he is a professional soldier and more than capable to efficiently execute and implement operation Zarb-e-Azb. * “Institutions are important, whereas people come and go,” he concluded. The words from the former army chief were impactful and honest. So I went again to see my fellow journalist from the Gulf News who was busy preparing notes on Pakistan as a safe place for business. He greeted me by saying, “Your army is trying its best to expedite efforts as part of the military operation under the supervision of the incumbent army chief.” Now it was my turn to smile. But not sarcastic. * Upon reaching Pakistan, I noticed a number of malicious news items saying the former army chief was allotted 90-acre of land, equivalent to Rs 4 billion. The controversy took me back Davos and that sarcastic smile of my fellow journalist from the Middle East.