Musharraf wants debt eased: Developed world told to keep word

Posted in Broader Middle East | 31-Mar-05 | Source: (Pakistan)

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf
ISLAMABAD, March 30: President General Pervez Musharraf said on Wednesday Pakistan was taking far-reaching steps for socio-economic uplift of its people , including empowerment of women, but urged the developed world to extend its promised assistance to the developing nations so that they realized their millennium development goals.

The developed world must contribute its promised assistance - 0.7 per cent of its GDP - to help developing countries realize millennium development goals, "otherwise the attainment of that objective will take centuries", he said.

Speaking at an international conference on 'Gender Mainstreaming and Millennium Development Goals', the president said that in addition to increasing official development assistance, the industrialized world should ease debt burdens on developing countries.

He also called for return of the looted money of developing nations, which has been stashed in Western banks, saying that their recovery would help speed up development of poor countries.

If the much-needed development assistance is not forthcoming, he feared, the islands of prosperity might one day sink in the expanding ocean of poverty. "The world can become a better place to live if the millennium development goals are implemented," he observed.

The MDGs, as set by the United Nations, emphasize world wide efforts for reduction of extreme poverty, promotion of universal primary education, better health facilities and empowerment of women by the year 2015. Pakistan is a signatory to the covenant.

The president said Pakistan was following a holistic strategy for poverty reduction through attraction of foreign investment and generation of more jobs for people at grass roots level.

He told the audience that the country had been successful in reducing poverty as "robust agricultural and industrial growth have benefited a large number of people" in both rural and urban areas.

Referring to a range of initiatives pursued for women empowerment over the last five years, the president said women in Pakistan "have been empowered in the public and private sectors like never before".

More than 40,000 women sit in political authority at various tiers of the government including provincial and national assemblies, he pointed out. The president, however, stressed that real empowerment of women could only be achieved through a societal change based on enlightenment and widespread education.

He said women constituted half of the country's population and had a key role to play in Pakistan's development. The president favoured a review of the Hudood Ordinance to ensure that it was in accordance with the spirit of Islam.

In her welcome address, Adviser to Prime Minister, Nilofar Bakhtiar, praised President Musharraf for his commitment to women empowerment. She presented the "Islamabad Plan of Action" which the conference adopted.

Special Assistant to US President Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, appreciated recent enactment of a law in parliament banning the practice of honour killing. President of APWA Tazeen Faridi also spoke at the conference, which coincided with the 100th birth anniversary of Begum Liaquat Ali Khan. -APP