* President seeks early realisation of Tokyo pledges
* Calls for channelling aid through existing institutions
* Wants increased US market access

Calling upon the US to fast track the reimbursement of the outstanding $1.6 billion Coalition Support Fund, President Asif Ali Zardari urged for the early realisation of the Tokyo pledges to ensure economic stability for Pakistan.

He also emphasised the passage of the Biden-Lugar Bill and the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Bill during a meeting with special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, President’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar told journalists. Zardari said these measures were necessary to expedite the country’s development programme and rebuild its infrastructure.

More access: The spokesman said the president had also impressed upon the US envoy the need to channel assistance through existing institutions and budgetary mechanism, which would strengthen their capacity and avoid overlap and duplication. He said Zardari had said Pakistan needed increased access to US markets and called upon Washington to create a special category for conflict-affected countries under its generalised system of preference-plus programme.

Welcoming the establishment of an energy task force, Zardari also expressed the hope that significant progress would occur in the wake of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Islamabad next month. The two leaders also discussed the forthcoming Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) meeting. The president presented a case for expediting the delivery of counter-insurgency equipment, saying this was vital to challenging extremism.

The president also attended the 5th Annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, where he met former US president Bill Clinton. Clinton told Zardari his organisation would work with the private and public sectors to secure foreign investment for Pakistan. Babar said Clinton assured Zardari he would soon visit Pakistan in this regard. The president, meanwhile, urged Clinton to launch projects for small- and medium-sized dams to help Pakistan meet its water and energy needs.

Daily Times