Pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani is wondering why foreign governments can bail out banks in their own countries but ignore the economic meltdown in his South Asian nation, where a financial collapse could encourage extremists and undermine the global war against terrorism.
“Pakistan needs the support of the international community in rebuilding its economy and providing hope to its people, because hope is what will help Pakistan’s elected government defeat the extremists and terrorists that pose a threat to the future of all of us,” he told the World Affairs Council in Washington this week.
Pakistan has appealed to the International Monetary Fund for emergency aid, as Shamshad Akhtar, governor of the central bank, warned last week that the government must raise $4 billion in the next 30 days to avoid an economic disaster. It will need a total of at least $15 billion over the next two years, according to some estimates. Pakistan is also facing an inflation rate of 25 percent, the highest in 30 years.
Meanwhile, terrorists continue to test the government of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Suicide bombers have killed more than 1,000 in 88 attacks since July.
“If Pakistan’s economic crisis is not resolved, if people in the world’s capitals do not understand that if they can give hundreds of billions of dollars in economic bailouts, then certainly a nation that is critical to global security also deserves international assistance in terms of being able to reshape its economy and getting back on an even keel,” Mr. Haqqani said.
The United States remains Britain’s most important ally in the war against terrorism, British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald said Wednesday, as he described London’s multi-pronged strategy to combat extremists.
“I hope it is clear that no one country can counter this threat alone,” he said in an address at Columbia University in New York.
“We need close cooperation with our international partners. In this the U.S. remains our number-one partner. We work with you more intensely than with anyone else on all aspects of counterterrorism, from intelligence sharing to work on science and other capabilities to joint work overseas in countries of concern to us both.”
Britain, which arrested 203 people on terrorist-related charges last year, is the key target of Islamic extremists, according to a report from the European Police Office, Europol. The other 26 members of the European Union made only 201 such arrests, the police agency reported in May.
London suffered the worst attack on July 7, 2005, when terrorists detonated a series of bombs on the city’s public transportation network during the morning rush hour. The bombings killed 52 commuters and injured 700 others.
Mr. Sheinwald noted that Britain responded to the terrorist threat with a sophisticated program in 2003 to address the recruitment of, and the hunt for, suspected extremists. It is called CONTEST, or the counterterrorism strategy.
“The strategy is divided into four principal areas: preventing terrorism by tackling radicalization of individuals; pursuing terrorists and those that sponsor them; protecting the public, key national services and [British] interests overseas and preparing for the consequences,” he said.
Mr. Sheinwald added that Britain will have doubled its budget for counterterrorism activities to nearly $6 billion by 2011. The British government is determined to prevent a “tiny minority of extremists” from posing a “long-term threat to our societies and institutions.”