27 (Internews): The United States is reportedly
working on a long-term perspective plan, shaping up new political,
social and economic benchmarks for both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Regarding economic gains for Pakistan, western diplomats have hinted at
long-term debt rescheduling benefits under the stock-of-the-debt
operation, which would enable the authorities to treat entire stock of
$12 billion official bilateral debt at the Paris Club.
In addition, a three-year IMF facility of $1.5-$2 billion, and $700
million per annum from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank in the
shape of new loans would help recede external sector worries of the
economy during the next three years.
Sources indicated that on long-term basis, the US was working on a plan
of $15 billion for 2001-10 to help uplift Pakistani economy through debt
relief, new financing through multilateral, trade benefits and new
investment, particularly in the education sector.
The basic thrust of the new American plan was to adapt to a changed new
world order, and which would be based on three key elements.
These are: sustained presence of the US and its allies in the region to
foster UN-led political developments in Kabul, investing in social,
human capital and infrastructure in Pakistan for transition of the
society, and reforms targeted to integrate Pakistani economy into the
Diplomats in Islamabad say that the US had prepared the plans after
backing from British Prime Minister Tony Blair and some other western
The primary goal, they say, would be formation of a government in Kabul
comprising various Afghan factions. Zahir Shah could be the figurehead
of this set-up, without any real say in running affairs of the country.
A supra-body led by the UN would act as the real mover and shaker.
US diplomats say America is determined not to abandon Pakistan again
after the war, as it did in 1989. This time round Pakistan could serve
as a major conduit for trade and business with Central Asian.
Some reports already indicated US interests in the Gwadar port, which
can serve as a regional hub for trade to and from ports of Sri Lanka,
Bangladesh, Oman, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, Iran, and landlocked
countries like Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
US naval ships are stationed just across Pakistan's Mekran Coast in the
Arabian Sea, near Gwadar for the last three weeks. Pakistan has already
signed an MoU for the development of this port.
Saudi Investment Fund is also a potential partner in this ambitious
project. China has its own interests, which motivated it foster
Shanghai-5 groups with the Central Asian states.
These states, bordering Xinjiang province, could stretch Chinese
interests, but it would need at least not an American presence in
neighbouring Afghanistan. -Internews