Islamabad - Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer World Bank, has appreciated the steps taken by the government of Pakistan to strengthen the higher learning institutions, which have a key role in the socio-economic development of a country.

She said this while speaking at a special session held here at Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Tuesday, which was attended by vice chancellors, faculty members, research scholars and students. Over 60 universities of the country were connected through video-conferencing. 

Indrawati said that Pakistan has shown good economic progress during the last few years due to right steps taken by the government, however she emphasised that the country needs to do much more to compete at regional as well as global levels.

The WB managing director said that Pakistan has a huge potential of human as well as natural resources that needs to be tapped properly. She said Pakistan’s growing middle class was representing a powerful engine for change. Terming macro-economic stability of the country as encouraging, she stressed that a lot of needs to be done. While referring to peaceful transfer of power from one democratic government to another in 2013, Indrawati said that this is a good sign and a critical achievement for Pakistan. She said that Pakistan’s people have proved themselves resilient in the face of extremist attacks, natural disasters, frequent floods and extreme weather. “But I want to focus on what in my views are the two most important challenges, both obvious and urgent. To reach its full potential Pakistan needs to make better use of its people and its position in the neighborhood and the world.”

She said that Pakistan is the 6th most populous country of the world with half population which is less than 24 years of age, adding that the country needs to effectively use its human resource and facilitate their participation through all means.

She particularly mentioned the drop-out rate of students at the country’s primary and secondary levels. She also highlighted the importance of gender equality in the development process, terming it indispensable for enhancing productivity.

Indrawati underscored the importance of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for Pakistan’s economic growth. She said that Pakistan should effectively take benefit from its strategic location for achieving economic objectives.

She further said that attracting foreign and local investment was imperative for sustained economic growth, in addition to consensus on economic strategies across the political spectrum.

Earlier, in his welcome address, Chairman HEC Dr Mukhtar Ahmed thanked the managing director of World Bank for sparing time to address Pakistan’s academic and research community terming it a valuable opportunity for them to learn from her experience. He said that the role of higher education is critical for economic development of any country. He briefly stated the HEC initiatives for development of higher education and research in the country and how, since inception of HEC in 2002, has brought about a paradigm shift.