ISLAMABAD - In a major development, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday established the National Development Council (NDC) with the aim of setting policies and strategies for regional cooperation.

According to a notification issued here by the Cabinet, prime minister would head the council while its members include Chief of Army Staff, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Federal Minister for Finance/Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance, Provincial Chief Ministers, Prime Minister of AJ&K and Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, any additional minister/head of strategic body, Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretary, Foreign Affairs Division, Secretary, Finance Division, Secretary, Planning, Development & Reforms Division and Additional Secretary, Prime Minister's Office as Secretary Council.

The terms of reference of the NDC state that the council shall set policies and strategies for development and formulate and tailor policies to achieve the accelerated economic growth.

The council shall also be responsible for approving long-term planning in relation to the national and regional connectivity. Furthermore, it shall set out guidelines for regional cooperation.

It will also provide measures for local coordination and provincial chief ministers will also be invited to the council’s meetings.

In addition, members of the council will be tasked to formulate and tailor policies to achieve accelerated economic growth, approve long-term planning for national and regional connectivity.

It further stated that the prime minister will be chairman of the NDC which will be convened at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The development is significant in terms of its input in national policy formulation aiming at accelerating sustained economic growth through long term planning as well regional connectivity.

Experts welcoming the development believed such an effort was long due in order to put the national economy on right the direction.

They were of the view that had the previous government created such a policy forum, Pakistan’s economy would have been far better today.

They argue that Pakistan had taken off well in 50s and 60s which had seen tremendous economic development across the country, but the successive government could not maintain that pace. Instead, focus of the successive government turned towards petty self interest and most of them resorted to corrupt practices.

But in view of the shambling economy and new opportunities available through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), establishment of NDC at this point of time even is a best way forward to put the national economy on a meaningful direction.

The NDC according to experts would also give Pakistan an advantage to expand the CPEC to other

neighbouring counties through connectivity that would not only help Pakistan in sustainable economic growth but would greatly help other countries to benefit from the new economic opportunities.