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Pakistan offers nationality to foreign investors

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to offer Pakistani nationality to foreign investors, especially to fetch heavy investments from wealthy Afghans and Chinese. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry through a late-night tweet on Friday confirmed the plan.

The government believes it will fetch billions of dollars of foreign investment by giving Pakistani nationality and proprietary rights to the foreign investors.

“In line with new National Security Policy, through which Pakistan declared geo-economics as core of its national security doctrine, the government has decided to allow permanent residency scheme for foreign nationals, new policy allows foreigners to get permanent resident status in lieu of investment,” the tweet said.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan during voting at National Assembly
on 13th January, 2022.

A source privy to this de­­velopment told Dawn that the government wanted to attract heavy investments from the wealthy Afghan nationals who were presently investing in countries such as Iran, Turkey and Malaysia.

They said the government also hoped that US-based Sikh nationals would be happy to make investment in different sectors in Pakistan due to their affection with Sikh religious sites in the country.

Also, Prime Minister Imran Khan in his recent statements hinted that he wanted to attract top Chi­n­ese investors who relocated their industries to other countries in the region. The government also hoped that the rich Arabs rulers, who used to visit Pakistan every year for hunting purpose, would like to have Pakistani citizenship.

Fawad Chaudhry announced on Friday that government has decided to allow permanent residency scheme for foreign nationals and linked it with their investment in the real estate sector.

In line with the country’s first-ever National Security Policy, Fawad said that Pakistan has declared geo-economics as core of its national security doctrine, which has led to the new policy allowing foreigners to get permanent resident status in lieu of investment.

Following in the footsteps of Turkey, sources in federal cabinet said, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government has decided to open permanent residency scheme for foreign nationals provided that they invest from $100,000 to $300,000 in the real estate sector.

While sharing the background, a key federal minister said that the one of the purposes of opening PR scheme for foreigners 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,” he said.

In addition, the minister said, the PR 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 that the third objective of the scheme was to incentivise the Chinese nationals, who wish to move or establish industry in Pakistan.

“It’s a historic step… for the first time in the history of Pakistan foreigners are being allowed to invest in real estate sector,” he said.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs Parliamentary Party Meeting
on 13th January, 2022.

On Tuesday, the cabinet 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.

Housing projects for overseas Pakistanis

Sources in the cabinet 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 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, Fawad 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 $2 billion from the project in the capital.

Opening new opportunities for foreigners looking to get into the country’s real estate market, it was reported that the Turkish government had enacted a law in 2017 allowing foreigners investing a minimum of one million dollars in property to get citizenship.

Though the move was projected as a means to lure foreign investment, the opposition in Turkey had alleged that the scheme was designed to shore up Turk president’s friends, many of whom are in the construction business.