KARACHI - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday vowed to take the ongoing Karachi operation against extremists and criminals to its logical end, pledging the city of lights would be crime-free by 2018.

“By launching the operation, our government took the bold step to purge this city of criminals. I assure you that Karachi will be a peaceful city by 2018,” Nawaz Sharif said.

He said the economic environment in the country was improving and the prevailing electricity crisis would come to an end with the completion of his government’s term.

Addressing the delegates after inaugurating the four-day 9th Expo Pakistan Exhibition, Sharif said the country’s exports for the year 2013-2014 stood at $25 billion and expressed the hope it would reach $50 billion in the next three years.

The PM said, “The country’s textile policy has been reviewed and exports in the textile sector will increase from $13b annually to $26bn by the year 2019.”

He said the government would provide all facilities to the textile industry to achieve the intended economic goals and added, “Pakistan’s textile industry holds a prestigious position in the global market, especially in household apparels like bed sheets, jeans etc.”

Prime Minister Sharif said the fact that the Expo was being held in Karachi made it clear that the city held great importance in the world of business.

He went on to say the Expo had successfully attracted the attention of several foreign investors and economic growth was the top priority of Pakistan.

He added foreign countries and international companies would be provided facilitation for investments in the country.

Talking about law and order, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the ongoing operation in Karachi would not be left halfway, but would be taken to its logical end.

He asserted the government was firm in eradicating militancy and had decided to take solid steps to ensure peace in the country.

The prime minister said the decisive moment had come to bring Karachi’s peace back and purge the city of the militants. “We are determined that the power of gun would rest with the government and not with the militants,” he said. He vowed Karachi would soon be rid of major crimes, including kidnapping for ransom.

The prime minister observed Zarb-e-Azb operation was being successfully carried out in North Waziristan and said decision on this operation should have been taken much earlier. He contended peace in the country would guarantee economic revival and prosperity.

Painting an encouraging picture of the country’s economy, the prime minister told the participants of the biggest trade fair in Pakistan, “It is time for those who want to set up industries in the country. Within next three years, Pakistan will overcome its energy crisis.”

Addressing the participants of the event, comprising Chinese, Germans and Arab guests as well as local businessmen, the PM said, “There will be ample electricity available to industrial and household owners. Our goal is not only to provide electricity but also to lower the cost of its production. For this purpose, we have decided to set up liquefied natural gas (LNG)-based power generating projects. The money for these projects will be provided from the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP),” the premier said.

He further said, “We are setting up power producing units with the help of China and by the end of 2017, 3,700 megawatts would be added to the grid. The project would be funded by the government; we are not depending on the private sector or bank loans.”

The PM also welcomed suggestions from the local business community, factory owners and leaders of political parties with regard to improving the country’s economy and industries.

The four-day Expo Pakistan is being organised by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP). The Expo 2015 has over 1,000 delegates from 75 countries.

Expo Pakistan is the biggest trade fair in Pakistan, showcasing the largest collection of Pakistan’s export merchandise and services. Foreign exhibitors from neighboring countries also use this platform to launch their products.

The mega event is showcasing the largest collection of export merchandise and services, including textile, leather, agro food, readymade garments, jewellery, engineering, handicrafts, chemicals, surgical, sports goods and pharmaceuticals.

The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) expects to get export orders of over $1 billion from the Expo.