Pakistan eyes $30 bln help from "Friends" group
ISLAMABAD, April 3 |
ISLAMABAD, April 3 (Reuters) - Pakistan will ask its allies to provide up to $30 billion in aid over the next 10 years at a conference in Japan this month, the country's top economic official said on Friday.
Nuclear-armed Pakistan, a vital ally of the United States as it struggles to bring stability to Afghanistan and defeat al Qaeda, got a $7.6 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan in November to dodge a balance of payments crisis.
It is also seeking funds from friendly countries and other multilateral agencies and will make its case for substantial long-term help at a meeting of the "Friends of Pakistan" group in Tokyo on April 17.
"We are going to make projections worth $30 billion for long-term projects," Finance Ministry chief Shaukat Train told reporters.
"We are going to talk about what our economic vision is, what our economic needs are over the period of the next five to 10 years," he said.
Tarin did not elaborate but officials said earlier Pakistan would discuss financing requirements for long-term energy, infrastructure and skill development needs to put the economy on a sound footing.
The "Friends of Pakistan" groups more than a dozen countries including the United States and Saudi Arabia.
Members agreed in Abu Dhabi in November that coordinated international cooperation with Pakistan was needed to help in the face of financial and security crises.
The international community is concerned economic chaos could play into the hands of al Qaeda and allied militant groups seeking to destablise the country.
While the "Friends" is a non-pledging forum, Tarin said Pakistan would also ask for up to $6 billion to meet a financing gap over the next two years at a donors' conference being held on the same day in Tokyo.
"We will be asking for between $4 billion and $6 billion for two years and it will mostly be in the shape of grants," he said.
The focus of that aid would be on poverty alleviation, health, education, security needs and a fund dedicated to the poor and violence-plagued provinces of Baluchistan and North West Frontier Province, Tarin said.
Pakistan got a first tranche of $3.1 billion of its IMF loan in November and a second tranche worth $848 million this week.
Pakistan also got $500 million from the World Bank this week.
The Asia Society think-tank said in a report on Thursday Pakistan needed up to $50 billion over the next five years to avoid an economic meltdown that risked turning the country over to militants.
Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the hands of militants is one of the world's nightmare scenarios. (For additional stories regarding Afghanistan and Pakistan click on [nSP437509]) (Editing by Robert Birsel and Jerry Norton)
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