By Sajjad Hussain
Islamabad, Jan 15 (PTI) Pakistan has decided to offer a permanent residency scheme for wealthy foreign nationals, including Sikhs living in the US and Canada, Afghans and Chinese, to attract investment and boost its flagging economy and national growth, it emerged on Saturday.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry through an overnight tweet announced that the new scheme was in line with the new National Security Policy, which was formally launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday.
“In line with new National Security Policy, through which Pakistan declared geo-economics as the core of its national security doctrine, the government has decided to allow permanent residency scheme for foreign nationals, the new policy allows foreigners to get permanent resident status in lieu of investment,” the tweet said.
The Express Tribune newspaper reported that while sharing the background of the scheme, a key federal minister said that one of the purposes of opening the PR scheme was to attract rich Afghans, who were moving to Turkey, Malaysia and some other countries following the fall of Kabul last August.
“They needed to be incentivised,” Chaudhry said.
In addition, the minister said, the scheme targets the Sikhs living in Canada and USA, who were willing to invest in religious sites, especially in Kartarpur Corridor but had no option to do so.
He said the third objective of the scheme was to incentivise the Chinese nationals, who wish to move or establish industrial units in Pakistan.
“It’s a historic step… for the first time in the history of Pakistan foreigners are being allowed to invest in the real estate sector,” he said.
The Cabinet on Tuesday had directed the finance and interior ministries to sit with the Board of Investment and deliberate upon a scheme where foreign citizens could be facilitated in buying properties in Pakistan.
In just three days, the government has given a go-ahead to the scheme in an attempt to bring in billions of dollars in foreign exchange.
Citing Turkey’s example, which recently allowed foreigners to buy properties in the country, the information minister had termed the project a “game-changer,” saying that the foreigners would be able to buy houses, hotels and invest in real estate once the scheme was approved.
Giving an example of Sikh pilgrims, the information minister had said that they would be able to buy property in Kartarpur, assuring that both the projects will have complete legal protection.
Sources while referring to the federal Cabinet’s decision taken in its last meeting to launch a housing project in the capital for the overseas Pakistanis said that it has now been decided that two more such projects would be launched in Lahore and Karachi.
In the post-Cabinet press briefing, the information minister had shared that a housing project stretching on 400 kanals (50 acres) of land was being launched for the overseas Pakistanis, saying it would have roughly 6,000 apartments and houses.
While sharing the purpose of the scheme, the minister had said that all the overseas Pakistanis who have Roshan Digital Accounts would be able to invest in the housing project, hoping that the government would fetch roughly USD 2 billion from the project in the capital, the media report said. PTI SH MRJ AKJ MRJ