KUWAIT - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday said that he will take up the issue of visa restrictions on Pakistanis with the Kuwaiti leadership today.

He told a gathering of Pakistanis here that he was visiting Kuwait after 26 years.

“I visited Kuwait in 1997 when Iraq was using aggression against it,” the prime minister recalled, adding that his government stood by the Middle East state and its Amir praised Pakistani support, deepening the friendship between the two states.

However, Nawaz said his diplomatic policy was not pursued after his government was toppled in 1999, resulting in visa curbs for Pakistanis - even for those working in Kuwaiti companies.

Counting his government’s feats, he said Pakistan was making progress since his party came to power in 2013.

The prime minister told the gathering that his government inherited a number of challenges – loadshedding, terrorism and financial crunch being at the top.

He went on: “Sixteen-hour loadsheding was a routine while trye-burning demos on major roads too were a daily matter, with frequent incidents of torching the offices of power companies at different places. Today in 2017, loadshedding is minimal. Power plants were being set up rapidly.”

But, now Pakistan has again been put on the progress track, he added.

Had the 1991 development plan – devised during his previous term – been executed, Pakistan would have been an Asian Tiger, he said.

Nawaz Sharif stressed that former rulers should be asked as to why their regimes could not take steps to meet the power needs like the present government was doing. “Their (ex-rulers’) criminal negligence cost the country dear.”

Basha Dam, which is bigger than the Tarbela and Mangla dams, was being built and work on Dasu Dam is also underway, he said, adding that the new dams will collectively produce 9,000MW.

He said he not only wanted to end loadshedding but also provide power to consumers on low prices.

The PM said that by 2018, 10,000MW electricity will be added to the national power system as his party wanted Pakistan to progress, no matter who wins the upcoming general elections.

Moreover, he said that various coal power projects have been initiated to meet the energy needs.

For the first time in 56 years, Thar coal is being utilised to produce power for Pakistan, he said, adding that the country needn’t import coal in a few years to come.

About critics of Lahore match, he said they were in a habit of turning their guns to anyone doing good for the country.

“Previously they (critics) were calling for bringing PSL back home but they started criticising the government when it decided to do so. The match was held; peace won; and the terrorists failed.”

The back of terrorists has been broken and the government was fully aware that their remnants were targeting innocents in desperation. He reiterated his anti-terror resolve, saying that his government was committed to a peaceful Pakistan.

About economic growth, the prime minister said CPEC was a game changer for the region and Pakistan was grateful to China for this great economic partnership.

Under CPEC, the PM said that a network of roads will be spread in Sindh, Punjab, KP, Balochistan and AJK. “Once ignored Balochistan is now growing rapidly.”

He said, “The interest rate has been brought to seven percent while the country’s stock exchange topped in Asia while stood fifth in the world” he said.

The prime minister also held a meeting with the delegates of Kuwait Chamber of Commerce.

Telling them his government was ensuring all possible assistance and facilitation for the investors, he urged them to invest in Pakistan, especially in its energy sector.

He said his government was giving special focus to building infrastructure, and leading financial institutions of the world had acknowledged the tremendous achievements made by Pakistan.

The delegates assured Prime Minister Nawaz of investing in Pakistan.