Pakistan receives pledges of $5.28 bn at donors conference (Third Lead)

April 17th, 2009 - 5:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Richard Holbrooke Tokyo, April 17 (IANS) A donors conference here has pledged $5.28 billion to Pakistan over the next two years to stabilise its economy even as it continues the war against terror, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Friday.
He was speaking to Geo TV on the sidelines of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) meeting here hosted by Japan and presided over by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

Addressing the 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 news agency 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 faces numerous hurdles from lack of infrastructure and increasing poverty near its borders to a shortage of training programmes, Aso said.

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.

World Bank Vice President Isabel Guerrero, as a co-chairman 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.

The US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, called the conference successful because of large contributions from a range of countries and groups, including Saudi Arabia, the European Union and the United Arab Emirates.

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