Special Investment Facilitation Council: Igniting Pakistan’s Economic Revival

Special Investment Facilitation Council

Attracting investments has evolved into a crucial component of a country’s development plan in today’s interconnected global economy. An export-oriented foreign direct investment is the key to the country’s economic revival. Pakistan’s attractiveness as a destination for investment has been on the decline. For example, Pakistan received FDI inflows of only USD 1.3 billion in the 11-month period from July 2022 to May 2023, a 21 percent decline as compared to previous year, after a drop in both remittances and exports. A dire need was felt for a holistic approach, one that includes an overhaul of the laws, practices, business procedures, and government regulations to facilitate growth and economic development. Therefore, a plan has been put together–in the wake of the economic hardships being faced by the country–to harness  the untapped potential in key sectors such as defense production, agriculture/livestock, minerals/mining, IT, and energy, through indigenous development and investments from friendly countries.
Government of Pakistan has approved the establishment of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), that will serve as a ‘Single Window’ for multi-domain cooperation in the relevant fields with GCC countries and other countries in general, aiming to facilitate investment and create an enabling policy environment. Notably, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) from Pak Army will be extended a special invitation to join this apex committee, adding a significant military dimension to the council’s operations. By integrating the expertise and resources of both civilian and military leadership, SIFC aims to consolidate its status as a formidable force in attracting investments. The SIFC is welcomed by all segments of society i.e., politicians, economists and journalists for the economic revival.

Ahsan Iqbal Chaudhary, the Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives of Pakistan, apprised the details of the national plan for economic revival. He highlighted that the leadership of GCC countries expressed their willingness to invest billions of dollars during their meetings with the Prime Minister and COAS. However, they emphasized the need for one-window operation. Ahsan Iqbal emphasized that the civil and military leadership has jointly designed this framework, following a whole-of-nation approach to facilitate foreign direct investment (FDI). He further added that ensuring the continuity of the established partnership in this framework beyond the current government’s tenure will provide stability.

Chairman All Pakistan Ulema Council Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi and Shahid Rind, special correspondent in Islamabad, praised the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) and the Army’s contribution to the country’s plan for economic revival. Because the economy and security are intertwined, Shahid Rind emphasized that the Army plays a crucial part in the SIFC. They both emphasized how crucial it will be for civil and military leadership to work together to win back the confidence of international businesses.

Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, the head of Pakistan’s premier policy research think-tank, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), urged that the economy should be considered a non-traditional security concern. He emphasized that civil and military leadership will have to work together to revive the economy. Dr. Suleri also expressed his opinion that the formulation of SIFC is a step in the right direction.

This article explores the goals, duties, and effects of the SIFC in releasing Pakistan’s powerful potential of investment opportunities.
By demonstrating Pakistan’s potential, emphasizing sector-specific benefits, and hosting investment conferences and campaigns, the SIFC actively promotes investment prospects in Pakistan. These initiatives seek to entice a broad spectrum of investors, from large multinational organizations to small and medium-sized businesses.

Dr. Farrukh Saleem, an Islamabad-based economist, argued that the formation of SIFC is unprecedented. He highlighted that the inclusion of Pakistan Army in attracting investments indicates continuity in economic policies, sending a message to the GCC and the international community. 

When investors show interest, the SIFC helps them by guiding them through the regulatory environment, getting them the clearances, licenses, and permits they require, and linking them with the appropriate governmental departments and agencies. By reducing red tape and other bureaucratic obstacles, this simplified facilitation procedure makes it simpler for investors to start and grow their firms.
The SIFC actively advocates for investor-friendly policies and changes with decision-makers. The council assists in creating a supportive business environment that stimulates both domestic and foreign investment by identifying investment impediments and suggesting regulatory reforms.
The SIFC concentrates on post-investment support, offering ongoing help to investors, resolving operational difficulties, and serving as a liaison between investors and pertinent authorities in order to promote sustained investment growth. The council wants to establish long-term relationships with investors and increase their trust in the Pakistani market by facilitating good communication and addressing concerns.
The Birth of the Special Investment Facilitation Council
In order to remove obstacles and bottlenecks impeding investment inflows and to provide an environment that is supportive to company expansion, SIFC was created. The SIFC has attracted interest and support from numerous stakeholders due to its emphasis on fostering an environment that is attractive to investors and promotes economic growth. The SIFC, which operates under the direction of the Board of Investment (BOI), is essential in attracting and enabling investments across a range of sectors.
The Prime Minister’s Approval
The foundation of the SIFC under the Economic Revival Plan was also approved by the Prime Minister. This illustrates the government’s dedication to fostering possibilities for both domestic and foreign investment and promoting economic growth.
Inclusion of COAS in the Apex Body
One noteworthy change is the Chief of the Army Staff’s (COAS) presence in the top body of the SIFC. This action is intended to boost investor confidence and stability. A collaborative approach to economic restoration is highlighted by the involvement of both civil and military leadership, which also emphasizes the significance of a secure business environment.
Strengthening Ties with GCC Countries
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have a tremendous amount of potential for investment, thus the SIFC is strategically concentrating on forging closer ties with them and luring capital from them. With this program, new, significant economic potential will be unlocked, and investment sources will be diversified.
Targeting Foreign Direct Investment

SIFC’s plan was praised by Pakistani newsreader and anchor Absa Komal, veteran journalist and analyst Muzamal Suharwardy, and defense and security expert Brig (R) Haris Nawaz. They claimed that the presence of the Pakistan Army strengthens its credibility because the civilian government has failed to solve economic challenges successfully.

Kamran Khan, a Pakistani journalist, asserted that the Pakistan Army serves as a guarantor to foreign investors for their investments through SIFC. He highlighted that although the present  government’s tenure is completing in 7-8 weeks, COAS will lead the economic revival plan.

In order to increase foreign direct investment, the SIFC has set high goals, hoping to reach USD 5 billion. This goal indicates Pakistan’s commitment to establishing itself as an appealing destination for foreign investments and the council’s ambition to build an ecosystem that is conducive to investors.
Collaboration with Economic Stakeholders
The Board of Investment (BOI), policymakers, and business professionals are all active partners with the SIFC in the economy. The council seeks to improve Pakistan’s business climate by addressing investment impediments, promoting beneficial policies, and implementing targeted reforms.
Economic Revival and Job Creation
The establishment of the SIFC is a critical step for Pakistan’s economy to recover. The council aims to provide employment opportunities, accelerate technical development, and boost overall economic growth by luring investments across sectors like energy, infrastructure, manufacturing, and information technology.
Impact and Success Stories
The council has developed an ecosystem that is attractive to foreign investors by lowering administrative barriers and enhancing the ease of doing business. The initiatives of the SIFC are expected to significantly increase FDI inflows, promoting sectoral diversification, technological transfer, and job development. The SIFC’s focus on defense, agriculture, minerals, IT, and energy reflects a meticulous approach towards sectors that possess substantial growth prospects and the potential to uplift Pakistan’s economic trajectory. The defense sector, for instance, offers opportunities for collaboration in advanced weaponry, joint ventures, and defense-related technology transfers. In the agricultural sphere, investments can contribute to modernizing farming techniques, enhancing productivity, and tapping into the country’s agrarian potential. Similarly, the mining and minerals industry presents avenues for extraction, processing, and value addition to unlock the hidden treasures beneath Pakistan’s soil.

Khalid Khokhar, President of All Pakistan Kissan Ittehad, highlighted the significance of the SIFC in the revival of the national economy and the agriculture sector. He argued that the participation of COAS and the Pakistan Army in SIFC will create a feasible environment and build confidence among investors. Khalid Khokhar, along with Malik Bostan Khan, claimed that Gulf countries have expressed willingness to invest in Pakistan due to the Army’s guarantee.

The SIFC has the potential to promote economic growth, generate employment opportunities, and position Pakistan as an appealing investment destination by fortifying ties with GCC nations, focusing on foreign direct investment, and interacting with important stakeholders. The SIFC’s success depends on successful execution, ongoing cooperation, and a persistent dedication to creating an environment that is favorable to investment. 
Its success in transforming Pakistan’s economic direction hinges on at least three crucial factors: implementing robust regulatory frameworks, ensuring transparency, and streamlining bureaucratic processes. These factors will be vital in attracting and retaining investors. Additionally, fostering a business-friendly environment through tax incentives, legal protections and infrastructure development will further incentivize investment inflows. By employing the right strategies and demonstrating unwavering commitment, SIFC holds the potential to reshape Pakistan’s economic landscape and guide the nation towards a prosperous future.

The writer is the executive editor of Hilal Magazines.
E-mail: javed20473@gmail.com

Courtesy by Lt Col Javed Iqbal – Hilal English

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A seasoned professional with in-depth knowledge of security, geopolitics, and regional dynamics

Javed Iqbal

A seasoned professional with in-depth knowledge of security, geopolitics, and regional dynamics