LAHORE - Federal Planning and Development Minister for Ahsan Iqbal has said political stability is vital for economic progress of a country.

“Pakistan, unfortunately, was ruled by dictators for 35 years in the past and the unelected government spent the funds from the social sector in the name of security,” he said at the foundation-laying ceremony of University of Health Sciences (UHS)’s Kala Shah Kaku campus Saturday.

The minister said the country could not progress in the past due to ebb and flow in the political history, adding that Japan and Malaysia were far behind Pakistan economically due to political stability.

Ahsan said the elected democratic governments had always used the social sector funds for the same purpose as these were answerable to the masses. He added research and innovation in the higher education sector are the top priorities of government and special grants have been allocated.

The minister said the Planning commission had provided a grant of 813 million rupees to the UHS for the construction of six-storey academic block, girls’ hostel and service areas at the 150 acre KSK campus.

The minister said the 813 million rupees grant would be provided in phases under the SARF project of the HEC, adding that progress in today's world was only possible through development and modernization in education and technology.

Ahsan said economy of a nation was also dependent on the health of the individuals, adding that health sector was ignored in the past.

The minister stressed the need for strengthening institutions and continuity of policies, adding that only then the future will be bright and the country will achieve unprecedented progress.

He said the government, under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, had overcome load-shedding to a great extent, adding that country faced 18-20 hours loadshedding in 2013.

He said the country today had won confidence of the foreign investors and international economic institutions for its pragmatic policies and Pakistan was declared a fast developing economy today.

He said CPEC provided a great opportunity take off as a growing economy, claiming GDP stands at 5 mark today and it could touch 7-8 mark in the next few years through democratic stability.

He said 10,000 individuals would get PhDs from the best US universities under the US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor as well in the next 10 years, adding that the budget of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has been increased from 100 billion rupees to 215 billion rupees. Earlier, the minister addressed the CEOs forum at a private forum where he was given a detailed briefing on the overall economic situation in the country.