Editorial - Seeking help - Friday, February 25, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=32961&Cat=8

President Zardari, who is on foreign shores again, this time in Japan, has told members of the Japanese-Pakistan Friendship League that his country needs help to combat militancy and that world peace would be at stake if it does not receive this assistance. The president also brought up the same issue with the Japanese monarch, Emperor Akihito, in a separate meeting at his palace and stated that the world – with Pakistan’s help – has helped create militancy. He spoke also of youth unemployment and how it has fed militancy, while seeking international help to rebuild Pakistan’s poor economy. The president’s assertions are not inaccurate ones. Pakistan undeniably suffers terribly from a militant threat and joblessness has played a part in aggravating this. But the kind of pleading refrain we heard in Tokyo has been heard before – in other capitals of the world that the president visits every few weeks. It is beginning to sound rather like the sing-song accounts of hardship that we hear from beggars in all our cities as they hold out their steel bowls. The president’s insistence that he is seeking help to rebuild the economy and not aid is only partially convincing. To make matters worse, beyond the promise of American aid, we have heard only a few small coins jangle into the outstretched bowl. Even traditional friends, such as Saudi Arabia, have not been especially generous.

We need then to face up to some harsh facts. In a world confronting hard economic times, not many countries are willing to help others. There may also be, for a variety of reasons, a lack of inclination to help Pakistan. The president’s frequent travels have not brought us much help in concrete terms. The reality is that every country needs to find ways to help itself. The evidence it is doing this may encourage others to pitch in and lend a helping hand. We need to ask why, given the scale of the militant threat, more development initiatives have not taken place in conflict-hit areas; why the government has not done more to create jobs and tighten its own belt to find the money to do so. After all, it is our country that faces the greatest threat from militancy and it is therefore we who must do more to counter it. President Zardari and members of the government should ponder this point. Perhaps, they need to spend more time at home and work out solid strategies to counter militancy, rather than demanding that other nations come to our aid and articulating the risks to the world, should they fail to do so.

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