LAHORE - Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, currently visiting Germany, said on Saturday that he is determined to change the backwardness of the villages of Punjab into prosperity through agri exports and the time is not far off when Pakistan will be at the top of the list of food items exporting countries.

According to an official handout issued from Lahore, the chief minister said this while addressing a largely attended press conference in Berlin on Saturday. Provincial Minister for Finance Kamran Michael, Secretary Agriculture Arif Nadeem, Member Provincial Assembly Ch. Arshad Jutt, Vice Chairman Punjab Investment Board Mastah Ismael, President Pakistan Muslim League-N Britain Zubair Gul, President Pak-German Council Shahid Riaz Gondal and a large number of German media representatives were present.

He stressed upon European investors to come forward for investment in various sectors in Punjab and assured that he will personally safeguard their capital.

The CM said that it might take some time for Pakistan to capture its due share in international food market but the journey towards this end has been started and the exhibition of Pakistani agri items and products in Germany is a milestone in this regard. He said that Punjab through showcasing its traceable agri items and products in the exhibition has proved that Pakistani cultivators are fully capable to meet even the exacting standards set by the western world.

He said that he is confident that traceable agri items of Punjab will soon become the identity of Pakistan at the international level. He said that 21 farmers and industrialists taking part in the fruit and vegetable exhibition in Germany are the vanguard in the struggle for the strengthening of Pakistani economy and their name will be written in golden letters in the history.

The media representatives paid tributes to the Chief Minister Punjab for addressing them in German language and also appreciated the Chief Minister Punjab and the members of the delegation for paying the expenses for the visit from their own pocket. They said that leaders of the western world should also follow the example of Chief Minister Punjab.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif during his visit to Germany met German artists, lawyers, journalists and scholars today. Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said that Pakistan has produced world renowned artists, musicians and painters. He said that Punjab will welcome exchange programme of intellectuals and artists with Germany. He said that Lahore is a hub of knowledge and art and all out facilities will be provided for the exhibition of German paintings. He said that terrorism and extremism cannot hamper creative process. He said that Pakistan has deep- rooted cultural relations with Germany which has the unique honour of having the alma mater of the Poet of the East Allama Muhammad Iqbal. German artists and intellectuals appreciated the efforts of Chief Minister Punjab for the promotion of education. 

The chief minister also met the wife of the German national who had been abducted from Multan and assured her that every effort will be made for the early recovery of her husband. He said that he and his government were deeply concerned over the abduction of the German citizen.  The wife of German official said that she felt confident after meeting with the Chief Minister Punjab.