DUBAI // Investment into Pakistan is key to wiping out terrorism in the country's poorest areas, Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said yesterday. Speaking to delegates at the Friends of Democratic Pakistan Conference, a meeting aimed at boosting financial ties to help achieve stability in the region, he outlined Pakistan's economic needs. "Poverty and socio-economic alienation are being exploited by the terrorist outfits and their masterminds to lure young impressionable minds and recruit them as foot soldiers and suicide bombers," he said.
"Our three-year plan of reconstruction and rehabilitation [in Swat], containing close to 500 projects, will cost about $300 million (Dh1.1 billion)," he said. "The development plan of five years, based on a post crisis needs assessment, would cost around $1.2bn." Pakistan's economy has been severely affected by its commitment to fighting extremism, Mr Qureshi added. "Pakistan has suffered losses of over $35 billion since 9/11," he said. "The socio-political cost of terrorism and militancy inflicted on our country is immeasurable, to say the least."
If Pakistan fails to consolidate its military gains with development in the troubled regions along the border with Afghanistan, he said, support for the government is likely to fall. "Pakistan is the country that has made sacrifices and is still doing so," said Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the minister of foreign affairs and host of the conference. "This meeting is a platform and the first step towards achieving stability in the region."