In a determined effort to reinvigorate its ailing economy, Pakistan has introduced a new visa policy aimed at enticing global business communities to invest in the nation. This pivotal decision emerged from a two-day consultative meeting convened by the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), a distinctive civil-military hybrid body originally established by the former Shehbaz Sharif government to confront Pakistan’s economic challenges.
Presiding over the fifth apex committee meeting of SIFC, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar made a significant announcement through a recorded message. He unveiled Pakistan’s approval of a more accessible visa regime for foreign entrepreneurs seeking to explore business prospects within the country.
Under the provisions of this novel policy, foreign businessmen will receive visas based on a single document issued by their respective home countries or international business organisations. In his address, Caretaker Prime Minister Kakar elucidated, “If Pakistan’s chambers of business or business organisations vouch for a foreign businessman, the issuance of visas will be expedited.” He expressed his optimism that this visionary visa regime would usher Pakistan into a new era of business and economic growth.
During a subsequent press conference held alongside fellow ministers, Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani divulged that the SIFC had also engaged in discussions regarding Pakistan’s relations with key global players, including China, the United States, and several Middle Eastern nations. Of particular note, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, have demonstrated keen interest in collaborating with the investment council.
In the midst of these developments, Law Minister Ahmad Irfan Aslam, in an interview with Dawn newspaper, acknowledged that, unlike the substantial investments pouring in from China for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Western nations had yet to provide definitive commitments to the SIFC. Minister Aslam clarified that the SIFC and CPEC had distinct scopes and sectors for Chinese investments.
While CPEC predominantly concentrates on infrastructure, roads, and energy projects, the SIFC opens avenues for Chinese investments in minerals and other sectors beyond the corridor project. This strategic differentiation underscores Pakistan’s multifaceted approach to attracting foreign investment and fostering economic growth.