Donors pledge $5.28 bn aid for Pakistan (Fourth Lead)April 17th, 2009 - 9:19 pm ICT by IANS
Tokyo, April 17 (IANS) Exceeding Pakistan’s expectations, international donors Friday pledged $5.28 billion for the country over the next two years to enable it to stabilise its economy even as it continues the war against terror.
The commitments were made during the international donors conference co-chaired by Japan and the World Bank and the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) ministerial meeting hosted by Japan here, APP news agency reported.
Among the major donors, the US and Japan pledged $1 billion each, Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey respectively pledged $700 million, $330 million, $300 million and $100 million. Smaller donors pledged the remaining ammount.
Addressing a joint press conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and World Bank World Bank Vice President Isabel Guerrero, Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said the money would go towards additional support to social safety nets, human development and pro-poor development expenditure.
The donors also committed to supporting ongoing programmes of more than $15 billion that aim at reducing poverty and enhancing economic growth.
Addressing the donors conference, Zardari said: “With all humility, I am asking the world to help us fight this terrorism which if not tackled will not end at our borders only and could spread.”
According to Zardari, Pakistan, which has suffered a lot from the war against terrorism, cannot afford to face defeat.
“Defeat for us, 170 million people, is not a cure, not an answer and we cannot afford it,” APP quoted him as saying.
DPA adds: Addressing the meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said: “Pakistan plays an extremely important role in the international fight against terrorism and extremism.”
Aso said he recognised Pakistan’s potential to grow economically and pointed out the importance of cooperation from the international community in maintaining peace and stability in the region surrounding Pakistan, especially near the border with Afghanistan.
Pakistan, he said, faces numerous hurdles from lack of infrastructure and increasing poverty near its borders to a shortage of training programmes.
The meeting called on Pakistan to strengthen its diplomacy to attract further support from the international community while emphasising the need for solidarity within the country, which has been racked by internal political turmoil and rivalries, a chairman’s statement said.
For Pakistan’s economic growth, the member states urged the country to increase policy reform and encourage growth in the private sector as well as its accountability and transparency.
On his part, Zardari expressed the commitment of his government and people to defeat terrorism and militancy.
“I assure you that with your support and with the support of the world, we are ready to do all that it takes to rid the world of this menace, which is a world problem,” Zardari maintained.
“I feel that you are giving us a new hope, which I can go back with to give to the people of Pakistan and tell them, ‘The world stands with you’,” he added.
The World Bank’s Isabel Guerrero, as a co-chairperson of the meeting, urged Pakistan to commit to eradicating poverty and regaining economic growth and emphasised the importance of improving its infrastructure and increasing agricultural productivity.
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