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Welcome World Bank aid for Pakistan to waylay debts

 ISLAMABAD, October 26 (Internews): The lifting of sanctions against
 Pakistan has laid the framework to allow the World Bank to send millions
 of dollars in aid to the indebted nation.
 The world lender stands ready to better its $300 million loan to help
 Pakistan reform its banking system, officials said here Friday.
 "The World Bank aims to send a strong message that it wants promote the
 positive reforms within Pakistan put forward by President Pervez
 Musharraf's government," a World bank official said.
 The latest announcement follows news earlier this week that the world's
 lending institution had approved the $300 million loan to promote a
 privatised banking system in the Asian nation.
 "There are other reforms on which we are having a dialogue with the
 government," says Abid Hasan, acting director of the World Bank in
 Pakistan. "Those will be additional funds," he adds, but fails to
 disclose a figure.
 The package is the latest in a series of loans the World Bank has made
 to Pakistan in the hope of promoting reform.
 "Pakistan is working to develop a competitive private banking system
 free from the interference of vested interests and operating under a
 strong regulatory framework," the bank said in a statement.
 "The government has demonstrated that it understands the essential links
 between putting in place all the fundamentals and its ability to create
 conditions for sustainable growth in Pakistan," said John Wall, the
 World Bank's director of Pakistan, speaking in Washington.
 Wall said the $300 million loan package would hasten the day when
 Pakistan could see its banks privatised. A safe, sound and efficient
 banking system is crucial to a country's development, he said. "It is
 the blood supply and very fundamental to all kinds of economic
 activity."
 Wall also said the loan package had nothing to due with Pakistan's
 recent support of US attacks on Afghanistan. "This particular reform had
 been prepared in the year," he said.
 The attention given to Pakistan in the last six weeks or so has raised
 the country's visibility and allowed people to learn about Pakistan's
 reform programme, he said.
 Pakistan's esteem has been raised among nations in recent weeks due to
 its support of US action against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban.
 Previously, the world's attention was on Pakistan's poor reputation and
 credibility - which Wall said is deserved because of past actions and
 policies. "An end result of the [reform] programme could be an improved
 image for Pakistan," Wall said.
 Also this week, the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) approved $50 million for Pakistan and Turkey to help finance imports of energy
 products. The announcement was made by the IDB at its 26th annual
 meeting being held in Algiers  Pakistan's Oil and Natural Resources Ministry received $25 million to fund imports of crude and refined products. -Internews

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