So far, the week has been marked with significant announcements of alliances and collaborations between Pakistan and other states in the international community. On Tuesday, the AFP cited German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who announced, “Germany stands ready to help Pakistan overcome its security and economic problems to help promote peace in the wider region.” In a joint conference with Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, he asserted, “We want to support Pakistan not only in fair weather but also in stormy weather.” Dawn, in its coverage of the meeting, reported that Germany would help Pakistan negotiate a deal with the International Monetary Fund [IMF], [see related CHUP post]. [Image from AFP]
The news agency cited analysts, who said, “With donors caught up with their own problems brought on by the global financial crisis, they would apparently prefer to wait for IMF involvement which would bring discipline by attaching conditions and targets.” Members of the Friends of Pakistan group, which includes the United States, the European Union, the UAE, the United Nations and China, reportedly expect Pakistan to come to a deal with the IMF before they will make concrete offers. Steinmeier signaled a similar stance today, noting that Germany “would be ready to step up development assistance to Pakistan but…declined to give a figure.” The Associated Press cited him saying that “Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, and other countries were discussing a separate package of assistance for Pakistan to boost faltering economic growth.”
On the security front, media outlets also reported Tuesday that Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to initiate contact “with militant groups through a tribal council.” According to GEO News, “The declaration came after two days of talks in Islamabad aimed at finding a lasting solution to the unrest which has wracked the region since the U.S.-led toppling of Afghanistan’s Taliban regime in 2001.” The Daily Times reported that Pakistani FM Qureshi emphasized yesterday that negotiations and reconciliation “are necessary to succeed in combating terrorism and extremism.” The joint declaration released today reiterated the “urgent and imperative need for dialogue and negotiations with opposition groups in both countries [in order] to find a peaceful settlement for the ongoing conflict…” The AFP cited Owais Ghani, the leader of the talks on the Pakistan side, who said that contacts will be established “with all those involved in the conflict situation,” including the Taliban and other militant groups, adding, “We will sit, we will talk to them, they will listen to us and we will come to some sort of solution. Without dialogue we cannot have any sort of conclusion.” [Image from Dawn]
Turkey on Tuesday also pledged to stengthen their bilateral relations with Pakistan in defense, commerce, energy, and communication, reported AAJ Television. Turkish PM Tayyep Erdogan and Pakistani PM Yousaf Raza Gilani held formal bilateral talks in Ankara. Erdogan, in a joint press conference, told reporters that “his country was ready to extend full cooperation and assistance to Pakistan to come out of its current economic crisis and enhance development in the country.” [Image from AAJ]
So it appears our senior officials have had their hands full today, with significant collaborations and deals made between Germany, Turkey and Afghanistan. However, let’s hope, given the deteriorating economic and security conditions, more than just “pledges of cooperation” follow these talks.