ISLAMABAD, Oct 28: President Asif Ali Zardari said on Tuesday the government could ‘ill-afford’ International Monetary Fund’s financial assistance with tough conditions.
“Time is running out and there is an urgent need for the ‘Friends of Pakistan’ to extend a helping hand,” he told Adviser to the British Prime Minister Simon McDonald who had called on him at the President’s House.
Mr Zardari, however, made it clear that Pakistan was not looking for aid, but needed friends’ help to enhance trade and economic and investment opportunities.
According to a Foreign Office news release, the discussion focussed on Friends of Democratic Pakistan Initiative, measures and options being considered by the government to address the economic difficulties, Doha Process, situation in the border region, Afghanistan and bilateral cooperation. The president highlighted the government strategy to handle economic issues, socio-economic initiatives to settle tribal areas, including the Benazir Card for every household, and negotiations with the IMF.
He stressed that the war on terror, which had its roots in other regional events, had now become Pakistan’s war and the country and its people were paying a heavy price that needed to be acknowledged by the international community.
Mr Zardari quantified how one incident of terrorism impacted the already turbulent economy. He stressed the need to identify the forces that were funding militants in this expensive war. He was not convinced that drug money could be the only source of funding.
The president informed the British official about the state of relations with Afghanistan and termed recent exchanges and developments such as mini-jirga a manifestation of growing understanding and forward movement in relations.
Mr McDonald conveyed greetings from Prime Minister Gordon Brown and said that he fondly recalled the president’s visit to the UK in September when they had a fruitful and candid exchange.
The British adviser was highly appreciative of the unanimous resolution adopted by parliament on government’s policy for tackling terrorism.