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Asia

Pakistan's friends get their message through

The countries and institutions belonging to the "Friends of Democratic Pakistan" have met in Brussels. The issue of reconstruction after the devastating floods claimed as much attention as the promotion of democracy.

Foreign Ministers Kevin Rudd (Australia), Shah Mahmood Qureshi (Pakistan), Guido Westerwelle (Germany) and Lawrence Cannon (Canada)

Foreign Ministers Rudd (Australia), Qureshi (Pakistan), Westerwelle (Germany) and Cannon (Canada)

The two issues are interrelated in a sense, generating the overall sense of urgency. In concrete terms, what the international community, and more specifically, Pakistan's allies in the West have been trying to tell Pakistan is that the burden of reconstruction cannot be carried fully by the outside world. Pakistan had to come up with ideas - such as a tax reform - to generate funds from within the country, they said. Reforms were also necessary in the sectors of energy generation and water management.

"A viable country"

The "Friends of Democratic Pakistan" group was founded in 2008, after democratic rule was restored in that country. The group boasts countries such as the United States and Iran, organizations such as the European Union and the United Nations, institutions such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank among its members. EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton defined the aims of reconstruction in the following terms: "This is about helping the people of Pakistan be able to have a viable country, get on with their lives and to move forward and rebuild in a way that protects them should the floods come back."

The World Bank has estimated the damage by the devastating floods at over $ 9 billion

The World Bank has estimated the damage by the devastating floods at over $9 billion

"Encouraged"

Ashton hosted the Brussels meeting, which was co-chaired by Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Qureshi said that Pakistan's finance minister was examining a number of proposals on tax reform. British Foreign Minister William Hague, on the other hand, made clear that the group was not putting pressure on Pakistan: "Minister Qureshi has stressed in the meeting that the government of Pakistan is fully cognizant of what they need to do." Richard Holbrooke, US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, said that he felt "encouraged" by Pakistan's awareness of the need for reform.

No concrete aid promises were made. "This is a forum which has been established to create diplomatic support and space for Pakistan. So it's not a donor's conference here: political support is equally important," Qureshi said.

ac/dpa/Reuters
Editor: Thomas Baerthlein

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