DOHA: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Thursday blamed the previous rulers for rolling blackouts in the country and ignoring the energy sector. He said Pakistan’s economy has witnessed a great economic turnaround and the progress and development was taking the country forward to a bright future at a fast pace. He was addressing the Pakistani community here during his two-day official visit to Qatar.

Sharif shared details of his meetings with the Qatari leadership and said they particularly lauded the role of Pakistani community in the development and progress of Qatar. He said he was very proud to get a very positive feedback about the Pakistanis who were working with a commitment and honesty and using their skills in respective fields to bring a good name to their country.

He said Pakistan has strong ties with Qatar and wishes to further strengthen these through enhanced interaction at all levels.

The prime minister said Pakistan’s agreement to import LNG from Qatar was a landmark deal and would help the country meet its energy needs. He said it would help Pakistan generate electricity, produce more fertilizers and use it for domestic needs.

He said according to the Brent rates the LNG deal would bring in gas worth 15 billion dollars, in the next 15 years on the best rates. He was appreciative of the government of Qatar for providing the gas at very competitive rates to Pakistan.

He said in his meetings he mentioned that the bilateral trade needs to be increased from 300 million to at least one billion dollars annually. He said the import of LNG would also boost trade figures between the two countries.

He said measures were underway to meet energy shortage besides cutting down the tariff to benefit the consumers. He said it would help lower price of products and make these competitive in international markets.

He said foreign exchange reserves today were at historic level and said when compared with the situation three years back a turnaround has been witnessed.

The prime minister recalled his meetings with President World Bank and other financial experts who have particularly noted the positive economic indicators.

He said the security situation in country has improved after the Zarb-e-Azb operation, which he said had broken the back of the terrorists and said the operation would be taken to its logical conclusion. He said the people of Karachi have also lauded the success of the operation against miscreants.

He said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor will help the country’s economy. The Gwadar airport would be one of the most beautiful airports of the world, he added.

He said his government was working to improve efficiency of PIA and it would be upgraded to compete with top international airlines. Sharif said numerous projects for power generation were underway and all sources like coal, solar, wind, thermal were being used, with the help of China.

He said the nation must keep in view the negligence of the previous governments that did not do their duty of generating electricity. He said the previous governments were duty bound to install units for power generation.

He particularly mentioned the investment venture of China in Pakistan’s energy sector and said the country was in urgent need to meet its power requirements.

The prime minister regretted that no previous government did their duty of building new roads and motorways and said it again goes to his government’s credit that a network of roads and motorways from Pakistan’s border with China to Karachi and Gwadar were in various phases of construction. He mentioned the Hazara motorway that would be completed in a year’s time and the 27km long tunnels near Attabad lake.

He said had Pakistan continued the phase of development that he initiated during his earlier previous tenure the country would have been at a far better place today. He also mentioned the demonstration of JF-17 aircraft in Doha and said he was proud that his government played its part in the initiation of the project and its successful completion.

Separately, Sharif invited Qatari investors to explore investment opportunities in Pakistan with particular focus on energy-related projects, infrastructure development and consumer-based industry. The PM was talking to Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad Al-Thani who called on him here.

The prime minister invited Qatari petroleum and gas companies to invest in oil and gas exploration and production sector of Pakistan. He said Pakistan was an agricultural country, having vast fertile lands and invited Qatari businessmen to invest in the agriculture and livestock sector.

He said Pakistan attached immense importance to its close and cordial relations with Qatar. “We are desirous of promoting, diversifying and strengthening relations in all fields,” the prime minister added.

Qatar Investment Authority CEO Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad Al-Thani said Qatari investors would explore the vast economic opportunities in diverse fields in Pakistan. He also lauded the liberal economic policy and favourable environment for investment in Pakistan.