And Holbrooke immediately came across, despite the fact that this strategy has spectacularly failed. “Holbrooke promises review of new screening measures: War on terror has paralysed Pak economy: Zardari,” from the Daily Times, January 16 :
ISLAMABAD: The US regional campaign against militancy and the violence it has provoked in Pakistan have almost crippled the country’s economy, said President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday.
The president made the comments at a meeting with US special envoy Richard Holbrooke in Lahore.
“Pakistan’s industrial growth and export potential have been severely restricted, first because the region was a theatre of war against rival ideology in the past … and secondly because of rising militancy in the country as a consequence of the first [factor],” a statement by Zardari’s office quoted him as saying.
$35 billion: Zardari told Holbrooke the war against militancy had cost Pakistan $35 billion over the last eight years, and “has almost paralysed the economy”. He said Washington was also behind on payments under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). US officials say red tape and problems in obtaining visas for US auditors to Pakistan have slowed the process.
Zardari also said drone strikes and new US screening measures for Pakistanis were a cause of concern, and called for an urgent review.
According to presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar, Zardari also highlighted that drone strikes inside Pakistani territory undermined national consensus against militancy and raised questions over the sovereignty of the country. The president reiterated Pakistan’s call for the provision of drone technology to allow national security forces, instead of foreign troops, to target militants inside the country.
Holbrooke assured Zardari that his government had agreed to review the new screening regime, and said the US homeland security secretary would personally look into the matter. He said $349 million under the CSF would be released immediately, while the reimbursement of the remaining money would be expedited….
Referring to the new US Afghan strategy, Zardari called on the US to remain sensitive to Pakistan’s core national interests and concerns. He said US operations should be limited to the Afghan side of the border….
Oh, we’ve been quite sensitive for years now — to the tune of several billion dollars passed on to the jihadis by Pakistani officials.