Flood-torn Pakistan has told a group of 26 countries and international organizations in Brussels that, in exchange for their help, it will pursue reforms, notably taxation changes. UN agencies say the summer monsoon disaster affected 21 million people.
The two-day Friends of Democratic Pakistan meeting in Brussels hosted by EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton was attended by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
US Special Representative Richard Holbrooke reiterated a demand by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Pakistan’s “affluent and elite” pay their fair share.
Holbrooke said: “Everybody in Pakistan should examine whether they are making as much of a contribution as they could in this moment of need. But I understand from the comments that have been made that the Pakistanis are in fact examining ways to improve their revenue base.”
The international community also wants Islamabad to help foster regional security by facilitating Afghan-Taliban talks. But in Brussels Qureshi said other matters were given priority at the Friends summit.
Qureshi said: “The Taliban issue was not discussed here. This was not on the agenda. What was on the agenda was the energy report. What was on the agenda is what we need to do in the water sector. What was on the agenda was how to build the capacity of the institutions.”
Euronews correspondent Sergio Cantone said: “Pakistan rejects any connection between the Taliban and socio-economic considerations in Brussels. But, informally, the West is putting pressure on the Pakistani government not only to adopt deep, credible economic reforms but to increase dialogue with the least radical of the Taliban factions.”