Statement by H.E. Mr. Hirofumi Nakasone, Minister for Foreign Affairs
At the Opening Session of the Pakistan Donors Conference
April 17, 2009
Your Excellency President Zardari,
Your Excellency Minister of Foreign Affairs Qureshi,
Adviser on Finance Mr. Tarin,
World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region Ms. Guerrero,
Distinguished representatives of governments and international organizations,
Today at the opening of the Pakistan Donors Conference co-hosted with the World Bank, I would like to address you on behalf of the Government of Japan. First, I would like to welcome the honorable ministers and distinguished representatives of governments and international organizations attending this Conference. I also wish to express my sincere appreciation to the World Bank, the co-host of this Conference, for its cooperation.
Amidst an economic and financial crisis said to occur once in a century, the international community is facing profound economic challenges. At the same time it must tackle the acute problem of terrorism, which is occurring all around the world and threatens people's peaceful lifestyles and their happiness. Pakistan plays an extremely important role in the efforts to eradicate terrorism undertaken by the international community, and its stability is directly tied to the stability and peace of the surrounding region including Afghanistan, and consequently to the stability and peace of the international community.
This morning, the Government of Pakistan held the Friends of Democratic Pakistan Group Ministerial Meeting. At that meeting, President Zardari expressed his firm determination regarding the terrorism countermeasures and economic reforms being implemented by the Government of Pakistan, and he explained specific efforts the country is now undertaking. Participating countries were united in welcoming President Zardari's determination, and they affirmed that the international community would provide assistance to enable Pakistan to undertake steady engagement domestically in both terrorism countermeasures and also economic measures and economic reforms.
Given the determination expressed by Pakistan at the Friends of Pakistan Group meeting towards carrying out various efforts, the Pakistan Donors Conference will hold discussions on the economic issues and short-term development needs now facing Pakistan.
As you are aware, in addition to the sharp rise in international food and oil prices, the economy of Pakistan last year had been confronting challenging circumstances as a result of the slowing of the global economy prompted by the financial crisis. In order to restore its domestic economy, the Government of Pakistan has been receiving assistance from the IMF and other development partners from late last year as it undertakes economic reforms. Based on the results of the recent first review of Pakistan's performance under the IMF program, Japan appreciates the reform efforts of the Government of Pakistan undertaken thus far.
However, insofar as the Government of Pakistan must not only address economic issues but also combat terrorism, it has not necessarily appropriated sufficient development funds to social sector areas such as education and health.
The international community and the donor community share the view that the efforts of the Government of Pakistan over the next few years will be extremely important in enabling the Pakistani people to live their lives with peace of mind and in enabling Pakistani children to attend school safely. Based on this recognition, Japan has viewed the holding of a Pakistan Donors Conference to be extremely timely for Pakistan at this important juncture, and thus this Conference came to be held in Tokyo, through cooperation with the World Bank.
Japan has been providing proactive assistance to Pakistan for many years. In May last year, Japan extended ODA loans of approximately 48 billion yen for infrastructure development in Pakistan. In addition, on April 7, Japan decided to extend emergency assistance to provide some relief from the hardships confronting the internally displaced persons that have emerged as a consequence of the fight against extremism in Pakistan.
In light of Pakistan demonstrating its determination on this occasion for economic reforms and counter-terrorism, the Government of Japan has decided to extend US$1 billion in assistance, premised on the continued steady implementation of the IMF program underway since November 2008. In extending this aid, Japan intends to undertake swift and more effective assistance for the poor affected by economic reforms while also providing assistance towards capacity building and other areas so as to enhance the Government of Pakistan's capacity to implement economic reforms.
It is necessary for the international community to extend support fully in concert in order for Pakistan to overcome various challenges. The countries and international organizations here today are participating by virtue of their shared understanding of this Conference's significance. Meeting Pakistan's short-term assistance needs of US$4 billion over the next two years through today's Donors Conference will underpin Pakistan's implementation of economic reforms as well as its promotion of measures to combat terrorism, while also leading to the peace and prosperity of the Pakistani people, and by extension, the stability of the region and international society. I firmly believe that today, various governments and international organizations can succeed in sending a fully coordinated message to the world that we will support Pakistan.
Thank you very much.
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