Thu, 23 Mar 2023

Islamabad [Pakistan], February 2 (ANI): Pakistan and United States officials said that the potential food crisis, Ukraine war, inflation and devaluation of the rupee are the 'real concerns' in Islamabad, Dawn reported.

Participating in the discussion through web-link, Pakistan's ambassador to US Masood Khan said that they are affected by the Ukraine war which had led to shortages of food and fertilisers.

Describing the challenges in front of Pakistan as 'a perfect storm', moderator Adam Weinstein asked Khan "If it worried Islamabad?"Pakistan was scrambling to get things right, but then came the floods and the situation worsened, reported Dawn.

Khan said that agriculture was important not only for food security but also brought about USD 4.4 billion through exports. "That's why it has been a setback" for Pakistan, he said.

The moderator noted that the US relationship with Pakistan has been focused mainly on the war on terror, ignoring larger issues, like climate change and natural disasters.

In the discussion, the Director for USAID's Office of Climate and Sustainable Growth at the US embassy in Islamabad Steve Rynecki, who described himself as a 'development diplomat', also participated and indicated that the policy was changing, and Washington was now focusing on other issues as well.

Climate change, he said, was one of the biggest international challenges of 'our time' and "when you have instability brought on by man-made or natural disasters (like the floods in Pakistan), the ramifications and ripples can reach the US as well, whether in the form of refugees or insecurity."He said it was in America's national security and economic interests to monitor the situation in Pakistan and "try to find a way to help".

Ambassador Khan said that besides post-flood rehabilitation and reconstruction, "we also need to focus on macro-economic stability because reconstruction and revitalisation of our economy must move in tandem."While talking about the generous pledges, of almost USD 10 billion, made at a recent UN-sponsored conference in Geneva, Ambassador Khan agreed with the moderator that all the pledges did not always materialize, as per the report in Dawn.

"Realistically speaking, all these pledges that are made at international conferences do not mature very easily, very quickly. But, at the same time, most of the pledges in Geneva have been made by multilateral institutions, banks for instance, and they have repurposed their earlier programmes," he said.

"So, at least 90 per cent of this money would go to projects. That's why, I remain optimistic that if we show competence, we can utilise all these funds," the ambassador added. (ANI)

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