Pakistan loss suffered $70bn in terror war: ZardariISTANBUL: President Asif Ali Zardari has said Pakistan has lost over 36,000 innocent men, women and children and suffered a direct economic loss of over $70 billion in the fight against terrorism.
In an interview with leading Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, Mr Zardari, who is in Istanbul to attend a trilateral summit on Afghanistan, said: “No country has made greater contributions and sacrifices in fighting terrorism than Pakistan. We have lost our great leader and my wife Benazir Bhutto at the hands of terrorists. No-one should question our commitment or intentions in fighting the war.”
President Abdullah Gul will host the sixth Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan summit here on Tuesday and President Zardari will meet his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai for the first time since the assassination on Sept 20 of former Afghan president and peace council head Burhanuddin Rabbani and evolve a new strategy on the war against terrorism.
President Zardari said the Osama Bin Laden issue was now `history` and Pakistan was looking forward to a new chapter of relations with the United States. He said the source of the greatest evil of the new millennium had met his eventual fate.
“We should look into the future and ensure that the militant mindset is defeated. The sooner we stop public criticism and finger-pointing at each other and coordinate our resources, the better it will serve the cause of peace and stability and in the fight against extremism and militancy,” he said.
“Our relations should be based on respect for sovereignty and mutual trust.”
He said after the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan, the international community abandoned the region, leaving “us at the mercy of so-called Jihadis. Today, our innocent citizens are killed mercilessly by these terrorists. This is a historical fact. The international community owes it to Pakistan to support it in the fight against militant mindset”. Mr Zardari said Pakistan was grateful to the Turkish nation for their deep compassion and sublime generosity towards the millions of Pakistanis affected by the floods and the 2005 earthquake.
He said under the present arrangement, visa was no more required for holders of diplomatic and official passports and the eventual goal was a visa-free regime for all citizens and a currency swap agreement to increase bilateral trade.—APP
Pakistan ratings affirmed at `B-`, outlook stable
SINGAPORE, Oct 31: Standard & Poor`s Ratings Services on Monday affirmed its `B-` long-term and `C` short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings on Pakistan. The outlook on the long-term rating remains stable.Standard & Poor`s also affirmed its `B-` issue rating on Pakistan`s senior unsecured local-currency debt and its `B-` transfer and convertibility assessment.
“In addition, we affirmed the `B-` issue rating on the sovereign`s senior unsecured foreign-currency debt, as well as its recovery rating of `3`, which denotes the expectation of a meaningful recovery of 50-70pc in the event of a distressed debt exchange or payment default”.
“The ratings affirmation takes into account Pakistan`s low income level, high public and external leverage, political and security risks, and fiscal inflexibility due to an exceedingly narrow tax base,” said Standard & Poor`s credit analyst Agost Benard. “These constraints are balanced against an adequate external liquidity position–largely due to the earlier IMF standby loan agreement and donor support.”
Pakistan`s high public and external indebtedness is a rating constraint. Standard & Poor`s estimates Pakistan`s net general government debt at 50 per cent of GDP in 2011, and about 40 per cent of it is external debt.
Although the debt-to-GDP ratio has fallen from 74 per cent a decade ago, this was mostly due to debt forgiveness and high nominal GDP growth due to double-digit inflation in the past four years, Mr Benard said.
The country`s fiscal inflexibility–particularly its narrow revenue base–has been a key reason behind fiscal slippages, including missing agreed targets under the IMF standby loan agreement.
The inability to implement structural revenue reforms continues to undermine public finances, and has resulted in the suspension of the IMF loan agreement well ahead of its expiry in September this year.
Mon, 31 Oct 2011
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MOHAMMED SALEEM MANSOORI