Pakistan seeks additional $30 bn US aid

April 8th, 2009 - 8:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 8 (IANS) Pakistan has asked for a $30 billion dollar Marshall Plan-like package for Pakistan and Afghanistan over the next five years to fight the Al Qaeda, blunt anti-American sentiment and secure Pakistan from extremists bent on destabilising its civilian government.

The demand was made by Pakistan’s Ambassador to US Husain Haqqani in an interview with the Washington Times published Wednesday.

Haqqani, who plans to attend an international donors meeting for Pakistan in Tokyo next week, said that the cost to the West was negligible compared to that of rescuing failing banks and corporations.

“And the impact in terms of American security and in terms of the longer term stability of the world in a very precarious region will be far greater,” he said, claiming “Pakistan has the will to fight terrorists, it needs the means and the United States should provide those.”

The ambassador denied published reports that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was helping the Taliban, which the spy agency helped create 20 years ago. “There are contacts for source building,” Haqqani said. “The era of active support for jihadis is over.”

Haqqani said he understood concerns regarding Pakistan’s past efforts to fight Taliban extremism in the region, but that the ruling Pakistan People’s Party is fully committed to the war on terror and to partnership with the US.

“It is time for our allies, our partners, especially the United States, to understand that any misgivings and disagreements that relate to the past should not come in the way of helping Pakistan in the present and for the future,” he said.

He cautioned, however, that it would take time to change attitudes in Pakistan. “This is not a switch that can be turned on and off,” he said. It “takes a while for the counter-narrative to be accepted.”

Despite Haqqani’s assurances that the Zardari government is gaining in strength, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman last week introduced a bill that would withhold US military aid to Pakistan unless the president certifies that it is not supporting terrorist attacks on India.

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