17 April 2009
Japan has said it will pledge up to a billion dollars in aid to Pakistan. The announcement came ahead of a meeting of donor countries taking place today in Tokyo which is expected to raise between four and six billion dollars.
Click to hear the report:
Prime Minister Taro Aso made the announcement that Japan would pledge up to a billion dollars of aid after talks with Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari. The two men met ahead of international meetings in Tokyo on Friday that will include the United States, China and the European Union, as well as other donors. Pakistan is looking for billions of dollars more from them.
In return it is expected to give assurances it is committed to economic reform and to fighting a rising Islamist insurgency. Militant groups are increasingly threatening the writ of the state in Pakistan, carrying out suicide bombings and other attacks. Taliban fighters based in Pakistan's lawless north west are also undermining stability in neighbouring Afghanistan. There's concern an economic meltdown could fuel support for extremism.
Pakistan's economy is being propped up by a 7.6 billion dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund. A key issue at the talks will be what conditions are attached to the aid.
Japan meanwhile is hoping hosting the conference will help increase its international clout. The world's second biggest economy has long punched beneath its weight because its post- war pacifist constitution makes it reluctant to send troops abroad.
Roland Buerk, BBC News, Tokyo
Click to hear the words:
- formally promise to do something, here, to give money to Pakistan
- people or countries who give money or goods to a needy cause
- assurances it is committed to economic reform
- promises that it is willing to change the country's way of organising its trade, industry and financial situation
- when people are fighting against the government
- threatening the writ of the state
- looking likely to cause problems for the authorities
- undermining stability
- making the current situation weaker and more dangerous
- economic meltdown
- financial failure
- propped up
- international clout
- power and influence around the world
- has long punched beneath its weight
- for a long time has not contributed to international affairs as much as it has been able to