In a bid to revive its weak economy, Pakistan has introduced a new visa policy to lure the business community from around the world to invest in the cash-strapped country.
The decision was taken at a two-day consultative meeting held under the Investment Promotion Council (SIFC), a civil-military hybrid body set up by the previous Shehbaz Sharif government to address the country’s economic woes.
Interim Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, who presided over the fifth meeting of the SIFC apex committee, announced in a recorded message that a new simplified visa regime has been approved for foreign businessmen who wish to visit Pakistan.
READ | Pakistan announces five-year visa for US citizens to boost tourism and business
He said that foreign businessmen who want to visit Pakistan will get easy visas based on a single document from their country or international business organizations.
“If Pakistani chambers of commerce or business organizations issue a document to a foreign businessman, they will also be issued with easy visas,” current Prime Minister Kakar was quoted as saying in the statement.
He expressed the hope that under this new visa regime, Pakistan would enter a new business and economic phase.
READ | The government received 732 visa applications from Pak citizens this year and approved 280 of them
Later, in a press conference with other ministers, caretaker foreign minister Jalil Abbas Jilani said the SIFC was aware of Pakistan’s relations with China, the US and other Middle Eastern countries.
He said the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have shown interest in the investment world.
The GCC countries include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Dawn newspaper, Law Minister Ahmad Irfan Aslam said that unlike the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which has received substantial funding from China, Western countries have not yet made a final commitment to the SIFC.
However, he insisted that SIFC and CPEC have different areas and sectors for Chinese investment.
While CPEC focuses on roads, infrastructure and energy projects, SIFC allows China to invest in minerals and other areas that are not part of the corridor project.
Aslam said agreements have reached an advanced level with GCC countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
“We will first sign the agreement with Saudi Arabia,” Aslam said, adding that they expect the agreement to be signed by the end of the year.
In response to a question, the Law Minister admitted that he was only aware of Indonesia’s interest in investing under the SIFC, while Western and other countries outside the GCC had yet to make firm pledges.
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