Give us more aid or else… : Zardari

May 17th, 2009 - 4:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban London, May 17 (IANS) Pakistani President Asif Alif Zardari says if he doesn’t get billions of dollars in aid, the people in the country’s restive northwest will turn against his government.
Describing a recently-announced 12 million pound British emergency aid as “a drop in the ocean,” Zardari said he needs at least a billion dollars to look after internal refugees from the current war against the Taliban in northwestern Pakistan.

And he needs another two billion dollars a year for education programmes to counter Taliban seminaries, plus funds to hike police pay and buy anti-terror equipment, he told The Sunday Times.

In addition to the British aid, Zardari was also promised $450 million of US aid during his visit to Washington last week.

But, he told the Sunday Times in an interview, none of this was enough.

“The affectees need at least $1 billion. We have to remake their houses, because we’ve gone in there and most of the houses have been demolished, and the whole (Swat) valley has lost business and the season to cultivate.

“If we are to win the hearts and minds of these people, we need to be able to relocate them back into civil society, give them interest-free loans to restart their businesses etc. If we don’t, they will turn against the government and we will lose the impetus we’ve managed to create in the country against the Taliban,” Zardari maintained.

Zardari said he needs to recruit 15,000 police after the military operation concludes but that the Taliban are paying fighters almost five times the average $50 a month paid to local police.

“We need to ask the world to support our economy so I can pay my police at least $350 a month and provide death insurance for their families. Also I need equipment - bulletproof vests for everyone, jackets, shoes, helmets, modern technology so we can listen to the militants, and training for counter-insurgency.”

“This is not just Pakistan’s problem,” he said.

“It’s the world’s problem. It’s no good everyone being in denial. If we don’t defeat the militants, where will they go next?

“It’s the monster that came back to bite us. It bit her (his assassinated wife Benazir Bhutto), it bit the country, it bit the world.”

Zardari said he also wants better terms of trade, access to world markets, cheaper electricity, a stimulus package and promises to buy Pakistani cement, the newspaper said.

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