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Pakistan puts a price on cooperation with US over terror attacks.

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    Pakistan puts a price on cooperation with US over terror attacks.

    Goto this site for more,....
    ISLAMABAD, Sept 16 (AFP) -
    Pakistan is planning to extract maximum financial benefit from its decision to extend its full support to a US-led campaign against international terrorism.

    Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz said he was confident that the Islamabad government's backing for a campaign which could involve military action against neighbouring Afghanistan would have economic benefits.

    The prospect of radically improved relations with the United States in particular could pay dividends as the country seeks to claw its way out of its current economic quagmire, Aziz said in an interview with AFP.

    "Clearly as the relationship (with the US) grows, I am sure the economic ties will grow which could mean better market access, better treatment on debt rescheduling and more money, both directly and through multilateral institutions," he added.

    Aziz, who worked as a senior executive for Citibank in New York before being appointed to his current post after a military coup in 1999, said that Pakistan's relationship with the US, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank, was improving even before the current crisis.

    "On our own also we were moving in that direction but this will give it an extra boost, no question."

    Mired in debt and with almost a third of its people unable to meet their daily nutritional requirements, Pakistan is in desperate need of any kind of economic support it can muster.

    US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Saturday said Pakistan had been "very forthcoming" in its cooperation on possible US action and said the US was appreciative of that -- remarks that could be seen as a signal Washington is preparing to dip into its coffers.

    Pakistan, among the United States' closest allies during the cold war, has been subject to a range of sanctions by the US and other countries since 1990 as a result of its attempts to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

    The sanctions were expanded in 1998 after Pakistan and its arch-rival India carried out a series of nuclear tests.

    Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar has already made it clear that Islamabad will expect the sanctions to be relaxed or lifted in return for its cooperation on combating terrorism.

    "We have had general discussions on the implications of such cooperation (with the US)," he said.

    "Let me say that Pakistan has for several years faced very serious difficulties, economic and others, because of these sanctions that the United States imposed on us in 1990. All of us in Pakistan are fully cognizant of the consequences and implications of the evolving situation and we will discuss how these economic problems may be alleviated."

    The sanctions have exacerbated the economic and financial difficulties of a country saddled with more than 30 billion dollars of foreign debt. The IMF suspended its lending and aid programmes in 1999 over Islamabad's failure to implement agreed reforms.

    These have since resumed and Pakistan is hoping to secure a large package of IMF financing for poverty reduction when a delegation from the Fund visits in October.

    "Obviously we want to focus on our debt," Aziz said. But he added: "We also want to increase investment from overseas and we want to get access to their market so that our exports grow."

    Among Pakistan's business elite, there are many who see the current crisis as a golden opportunity for Pakistan to get back on the right side of the United States.

    Up until the start of the 1990's of the cold war, Pakistan was the third largest recipient of US aid -- after Israel and Egypt. But Washington has steadily downgraded its involvement in and financial commitment to the region since 1989, when Soviet troops pulled out of Afghanistan.

    Aziz acknowledged that the prospect of US military action against Afghanistan carried it with the risk of a short-term negative impact on the economy.

    But he said he had little doubt that, in the long term, Pakistan would reap the benefits of siding with the world's biggest economy.

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    A Faith that cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets.

    I dont think any reason why not!!!! some military experts antispated that this operation may last 2-3 years. During this 2-3 years pakistan will be affected both ecnomically and finnacially. We may end sheltering thousands of aghans.

    Anyway, At leaset the decision was to benefit the Pakistan and its people NOT their own pockets like NS did when US strike afghanistan with cruise missle.

    "Away from Eyes......Close to Heart"