US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday said Pakistan’s wealthy needed to dig into their own pockets to match international efforts to aid the ravaged nation’s long-term recovery.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable for those with means in Pakistan not to be doing their fair share to help their own people while taxpayers in Europe, the United States and other contributing countries are all chipping in,” Mrs Clinton said.
“The most important step Pakistan can take is to pass meaningful reforms to expand its tax base,” she said as she joined the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in pledging continued assistance.
“The government must require that the economically affluent and elite support the government and people of Pakistan,” added Hillary, who has repeatedly insisted on the need for fiscal reforms in Pakistan.
Saying “the international community can only do so,” she urged the government in Islamabad to “take immediate and substantial action to mobilize its own resources” for the immense task of reconstructing schools, health clinics, bridges, thousands of kilometres of roads and repair new irrigation systems.
Tax however was not among a myriad questions put to Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi during a 90-minute grilling before the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee.
Qureshi, asked to answer questions ranging from the use of flood aid relief to empowering women and Pakistan’s nuclear intentions, was in Brussels ahead of a key meeting Friday that he co-hosts with Ashton.
The ministerial-level session of the “Friends of Democratic Pakistan” - set up in 2008 grouping 26 nations and international bodies - is to look at the impact of this summer’s devastating floods on Pakistan’s long-term recovery efforts.
Mrs Clinton, in the EU capital for a one-day NATO summit, said that as Pakistan shifted from relief to recovery from the disaster that impacted 21 million people - with 12 million in need of emergency help according to the UN - more help would be needed from the international community.