UAE to host Pakistan bailout talks next month

The UAE will play host to an international donors’ meeting in the first week of November discussing how to bailout Pakistan from bankruptcy and economic turbulence. The meeting of the Friends of Pakistan group will be held in Abu Dhabi with the participation of 25 countries, IMF, World Bank and other international financial institutions. The group held a meeting in New York earlier this year during the visit of President Asif Ali Zardari, who then sought $100 billion to help his country’s economy. Since then, with hectic negotiations with friendly countries and international financial institutions, Pakistan has already secured a pledge of $4bn from the international community to help the country avoid bankruptcy. “The second formal meeting of the Friends of Pakistan group is being hosted by the Government of UAE here in Abu Dhabi. It will be held in the beginning of the next month, but the exact date, venue and the agenda is yet to be decided,” Khursheed Ahmed Junejo, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UAE, told Emirates Business. “We expect all the group countries to attend the meeting, which will be chaired by the UAE and attended by President Zardari. We are expecting 25 countries, including the US, Britain, China and Germany, in addition to international financial institutions.” The ambassador, a prominent politician in the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party who took charge about two months ago, said expectations are very high from donors in the group to support Pakistan financially. “Pakistan is fighting a war against terrorism on behalf of the whole world on its soil; therefore we need financial assistance from the world community. I’m optimistic the outcome will be positive with group members pledging a good amount of money to support our economy,” he said when asked if Zardari’s approach of seeking $100bn will be achieved in the meeting. Referring to the current global financial crisis, Junejo said the crisis – coupled with the country’s war on terrorism and the law and order situation – has badly affected the country. “At present, Pakistan, in fact the whole world is facing financial and economic crises. The rupee value has declined against the US dollar, which has lead to a drop in our remittances from here this year compared to years before,” he said. However, the ambassador said under the leadership of President Zardari, Pakistan is now drawing up a new economic roadmap that is set to bring positive changes in the country within a year. He said the president went to the US and China immediately after assuming his office to attract foreign investment and was successful in re-organising the Friends of Pakistan group, which includes the G8 and Middle East countries and China. “The UAE is the biggest foreign investor in Pakistan with the existing investment of $5 billion in different areas, including a refinery. Investment from UAE was extremely good until 2005, but now it has declined by 28 per cent,” he said, adding a complex of the recent global crisis has resulted in a massive flight of capital from Pakistan. “By end of this year, we expect things to return to normalcy and re-attract investment from the UAE and other countries,” he said. The ambassador invited UAE companies to invest in Pakistan’s various sectors, particularly in power plants, agriculture, real estate and exploration of mineral resources. By Nissar Hoath