Sherry rejects calls for conditional US aid -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Sherry rejects calls for conditional US aid

ISLAMABAD: Former information minister Sherry Rehman opposed the “conditionalities-driven” model of US assistance for Pakistan, calling it a major factor compromising mutual Pak-US strategic goals.

She was testifying before the US Congress Sub-Committee on National Security hearing for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) crisis on Wednesday.

Sherry was invited to testify at the hearing on “US Contribution to the Response to Pakistan’s Humanitarian Crisis: The Situation and the Stakes”. Other witnesses included Samina Ahmed from the International Crisis Group and Ken Bacon from the Refugees International organisation.

Stressing the need for an absolute commitment on the US’ part as well as Pakistan’s other international allies, Sherry said the displacement was a test for all stakeholders in world peace. “The military operation became possible only after a broad public consensus emerged against militancy,” she said.

Hurdle: Sherry said the battle for Pakistan’s security had shifted to the Mardan and Buner camps, and ignoring the reality of the three million Pakistanis displaced because of the military operations could turn out to be the biggest blow to the efforts against militancy.

Sherry criticised the international community’s slow response towards the crisis saying, “Only a small percentage of the $430 million pledged has been actually translated into relief aid. The UN has said its appeal for $543 million in emergency aid has not been met yet, and if by July the deficit in international help remains at 80 percent, food supplies to the camps will end.”

Sherry said the government had allocated Rs 50 billion in the budget for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, but it required urgent assistance to maintain food security at the camps. “Pakistan has paid a heavy price at the hands of Taliban, and incurred losses of lives, property and faced anguish of millions,” she added.

Rebuilding infrastructure: Sherry said the country had suffered financial losses worth $35 billion. “International assistance for the IDPs should follow a broader framework for providing relief to the residents of relief camps, assisting the Pakistan government in rebuilding infrastructure for the IDPs when they go back once the military operation ends.”

“The stakes are very high. For us in Pakistan, this is as much an effort to reclaim lost territory, reinstall the Pakistani flag, as for ensuring the writ of the government, guaranteeing fundamental entitlements, and empowering state institutions to function in a sovereign democratic plurality,” she said.

She warned if the dilemmas of internal displacement, inhuman camp conditions, curfew, and lost family members were not mitigated soon, Pakistan would see human anguish draining public resolve for the military operations. “The fact that 80 percent of IDPs are not living in camps is a crisis waiting to unfold. So, the longer this crisis lingers, the quicker our space for an existential battle against terrorism will shrink,” Sherry added.

Source: Daily Times

Date:6/18/2009