Zardari-Obama meeting: US offers ‘new ways’ to help Pakistan’s economy

Published: January 15, 2011
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari (L) speaks at a meeting with US President Barack Obama January 14, 2010 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari (L) speaks at a meeting with US President Barack Obama January 14, 2010 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. PHOTO: AFP


US President Barack Obama on Friday offered to look at new ways to help Pakistan’s troubled economy as he showed support for President Asif Ali Zardari at a White House meeting, officials said.

Zardari held a closed-door meeting with Obama after flying into Washington for a memorial service for Richard Holbrooke, the late US envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, which has been a top priority for the US administration.

Obama “underscored the importance of the US-Pakistan relationship and our continued support for Pakistan,” the White House said in a statement.

“The discussion focused on our shared efforts to fight terrorism and promote regional stability, specifically on the importance of cooperating towards a peaceful and stable outcome in Afghanistan,” it said.

In the talks with Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Zardari also explained the “needs and requirements”  for Pakistan’s fragile economy, said Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Washington.

“President Obama and Secretary Clinton have said that the US will over the next few days find ways to strengthen Pakistan’s economic reform process, while taking into consideration social and political factors,” Haqqani said.

Haqqani said that Zardari expressed appreciation for assistance from the United States, which in 2009 approved a five-year, $7.5 billion package for the key but complicated war partner.

“Pakistan does not want to be a permanent recipient of aid. We want to be able to stand on our own two feet and for that we need economic reform,” Haqqani said of the White House conversation. But a bailout by the International Monetary Fund has hit a political roadblock in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani last week reversed a controversial hike in fuel prices, meeting demands of the opposition after the ruling party briefly lost its majority in parliament.

Economic assistance was also a key item on the agenda when Vice President Joe Biden visited Pakistan and Afghanistan this week.

Obama and Zardari also touched on the assassination of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, an outspoken liberal who had campaigned to reform the controversial blasphemy law which rights activists say has often been abused to target minorities.

Obama “expressed the view that he was, like many people around the world and in Pakistan, distressed by the reaction of some people in Pakistan who were reluctant to condemn that assassination,” Haqqani said.

“He appreciated the stance of the government of Pakistan in wanting to pursue the perpetrators of this crime as well as to continue to work toward building a moderate, democratic Pakistan, which is the strongest guarantee against the success of terrorists in our region.”

The Obama administration believes that efforts to bring economic stability and build democratic institutions are crucial in targeting Pakistan where some of the world’s most-wanted extremists are holed up.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (42)

  • Ahmed
    Jan 13, 2011 - 4:14PM

    He is too good in “Business”, running Pakistan Pvt. LimitedRecommend

  • Jan 13, 2011 - 4:17PM

    good gestureRecommend

  • Ahmed
    Jan 13, 2011 - 4:20PM

    Savings in not the solution, but the productivity…Recommend

  • moise
    Jan 13, 2011 - 4:54PM

    At boss’s memorial. Good job.Recommend

  • Saad Durrani
    Jan 13, 2011 - 5:06PM

    Mr. Haqqani, thank you for telling us that Mr. Zardari is the most frugal President ever. However, he chooses the worse timings to plan his trips.Recommend

  • Shireen Khan
    Jan 13, 2011 - 5:08PM

    Why do people not recognise and laud his good intentions as mentioned in the above article, whatever the President does is met with cynicism and opposition by some negative minds. @ Ahmed savings are part of the overall solution… Recommend

  • Adil
    Jan 13, 2011 - 5:15PM

    Didnt see President Obama at Salman Taseer’s funeral!! Recommend

  • Waqas Rao
    Jan 13, 2011 - 5:24PM

    Good going Hussain Haqqani, please dont let our president use the underground Subs or taxi in America otherwise it will show how poor our country is………..wait a minute we are poor in that case buy him all day bus ticket.

    This trip is not justified and you are commenting on his traveling ways to America. For god sake come back and serve these people.Recommend

  • Ramzan+Ali
    Jan 13, 2011 - 5:29PM

    Zardari goes to US for holbrooke’s janaza… couldnt make it to Lahore for Salman Taseers! why?Recommend

  • abdullah
    Jan 13, 2011 - 5:41PM

    appreciate the austerity measures but what about the protocols given 2 d relative of parliamentarians who r not even in pollitics .M not here 2 criticise his good act bt i dont want 2 b fooled..v realy need 2 take big steps……….Recommend

  • ashok sai
    Jan 13, 2011 - 5:59PM

    @ Ramzan+Ali

    Good question.Recommend

  • Jan 13, 2011 - 6:12PM

    Mr. President please bring with you a few $ ! (dolllars i mean)Recommend

  • Majid Maqsood
    Jan 13, 2011 - 7:10PM

    Wish you best of luck Mr zaradari.Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Jan 13, 2011 - 7:11PM

    Not necessarily. Saving is the only solution when we keeps on getting foreign donation and loans. Be productive, make money by yourself, then spending more will not be an issue, thats not what we people understand. Work work and work for the country and be competitive in the global market. Thats the best solutionRecommend

  • Aziz
    Jan 13, 2011 - 7:34PM

    It is a sad state of affair that the President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan who did not attend funeral of the Governor of his own province and his party member is traveling half way across the world to attend funeral of a person where according to protocol Foreign Secretary would have sufficed. To keep dignity of his office a wreath on his behalf is what was required.Recommend

  • Jawad Rehman
    Jan 13, 2011 - 7:52PM

    The president of one of the 7 nuclear powers in the world to visit US to attend the funeral of an under-secretary level individual? And no meeting with the US President?? No wonder, wikileaks is full of disrespectful remarks about our country and its leaders when our leaders bow down so much and have no regard for the honor of their country. Shameful.Recommend

  • Syed A. Mateen
    Jan 13, 2011 - 9:18PM

    It is a good omen that coalition partners meet with each other after short intervals to avoid any misunderstanding.

    Pak-US friend has a long way to go. Though Head of the States in both the countries are changed with the passage of time and have to deal with political parties aiming different concepts of governing countries.

    Pakistan and US are also strategic partners and need to workout long terms strategies which should not affect change of governments in both the countries. Recommend

  • marvi anjum
    Jan 13, 2011 - 10:56PM

    president is on an official visit to USA. the main focus of this visit is his meeting with mr.obama on bilateral issues. president will attend the funeral of Holbroke because of his close association with the bhutto family. it will be a private affair altogether. mr.zardari didnt attend mr.taseer’s funeral due 2 security reasons..PM and his cabinet was their in the funeral.president’s sister ms.faryal talpur was in lahore on his behalf and stayed with taseer family in their hour of plz stop being cynical.Recommend

  • Haris Chaudhry
    Jan 14, 2011 - 2:31AM

    @ Jawad Rehman

    “The president of one of the 7 nuclear powers in the world to visit US to attend the funeral of an under-secretary level individual? ”

    Nuclear Power does not mean anything. Democracy, justice, sound economy, powerful institutions, literacy and law and order is everything a nation can gloat about. We have none of the above.

    Having “aitom bums” does not translate into respect, integrity and superiority.

    We are an almost-failed nation.

  • Jan 14, 2011 - 3:11AM

    I say if Mr Haqqani makes tall claims of Mr. Zardari going on commercial jet – General perception is that Mr Zardari travels in utmost luxury – then I think Mr. Haqani should show live footage of Mr. Zardari boarding and taking off on a commercial PIA jet

    I believe his comments are mere whitewash to deflect the QRecommend

  • sunil vohra
    Jan 14, 2011 - 9:21AM

    I totally agree with Aziz regarding maintaining protocolRecommend

  • lkhan
    Jan 14, 2011 - 10:56AM

    The sensible comments by women, Ms Shireen Khan and Ms Marvi Anjum! Holbrooke did much for the people of Swat and Pakistan during their times of need, our President’s presence at his memorial is a good gesture. Time we Pakistanis stop hate filled responses and analysed objectively.Recommend

  • PakiBoy
    Jan 14, 2011 - 11:20AM

    I mean seriously, who do they think are we. Mr. Zardari who’s educating his children at the most expensive institutions on the planet (fair enough by the way), has properties all over the world is paying what amount of tax? The guy can afford to travel on his own expenses alone at charter flights. But, i guess since he is in government, i think its an obligation on him to use every penny left in Pakistan. And for the love of peace, he is going to attend funerals of the late Richard uncle. I mean how low can he get. The president of US has no scheduled meetings with the Paki official of the highest order, are u kidding me!. I think this trip has nothing to do with us as the nation, its just for Zardari’s Pvt. Ltd. I seriously think that he deserves neither to represent us nor to rule us.I fail to understand what PPP people see in him that i cant.Same goes, for Nawaz Sharif until they both bring in their assets to Pak,invest here and do whatever they accept from us. Atleast for now, Imran Khan is the way to go…He is the only one who comes out clean out of this whole mess.Recommend

    Jan 14, 2011 - 1:07PM

    Excellent 1Recommend

  • Shamsi Ajani
    Jan 14, 2011 - 10:52PM

    Foreign Office: did you need brief the President about protocols?. Oh sorry; you did but he did not understand–we understand his lack of understanding.

    This president is embarrassing the nation by his actions and at time slack of it.Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Jan 14, 2011 - 11:30PM

    People are emitting funny sounds on the visit of President. He simply went there to attend the funeral of a person who is widely respected around the world and also to discuss regional issues which are also equal important. He is no more interested in Sara Palin !!!!!Recommend

  • True+Pakistani
    Jan 15, 2011 - 12:05AM

    mr president is not the chief exective of our country post 18th amendment.why z he there meeting obama?Recommend

  • Imran Mohammad
    Jan 15, 2011 - 1:14AM

    Who cares…. Recommend

    Jan 15, 2011 - 1:17AM


  • Zechariah Aibak
    Jan 15, 2011 - 1:59AM

    The “Frankenstien of Corruption” – what you expect of him? He has no honour left in him that may tell him that it’s better die hungary than eating a rotten donkey!Recommend

  • Jan 15, 2011 - 2:44AM

    I agree Zardari should have attended Taseers janaza but then again Mullahs are sending little kids all over Pakistan to blow themselves up.

    And concerning Holbrooke to the best of my knowledge he did a lot for Pakistani during their times of need from – we should seriously cease biting the hand that feeds Recommend

  • Jan 15, 2011 - 5:28AM

    Is it only me who finds Zardari’s left hand asking for more aid? Recommend

  • Syed
    Jan 15, 2011 - 7:33AM

    He needed an excuse to go there and request for more time and money and he got that at Holbrook’s funeral. He is lucky to have such an envoy over there who can fix a white house appointment which was not there even after his arrival in the state. He will become sober the day he learn to sit with closed legs at high profile meetings. Recommend

  • satyram
    Jan 15, 2011 - 8:50AM

    Otherway of looking is Prez Obama is saying prez zardari, since i could not put my own house in order so i will put yours. Recommend

  • Jan 15, 2011 - 9:43AM

    US offers ‘new ways’ to help Pakistan’s economy

    Sorry this time no bucks $ only pat on the back for coming all the way from Islamic Republic of Pakistan for memorial service for Richard Holbrooke.Recommend

  • abdullah
    Jan 15, 2011 - 10:20AM

    @ marvi anjum

    zaradari did nt visit taseer not bcoz of security ..bcoz a palmist had ask him nt 2 got in a mountanious area and stay close 2 sea ..thats why he was staying in karachi at that tym…Recommend

  • RWS
    Jan 15, 2011 - 10:27AM

    When are we going to get some courage?Recommend

  • Ramzan+Ali
    Jan 15, 2011 - 12:00PM

    Our country have the Best Talent in the world in all departments, Why America is helping Pakistan in new ways for economy ????Recommend

  • Qazi
    Jan 15, 2011 - 1:09PM


    Our country’s best talent has brought us to the brink of destruction, what else do you expect from them. Our failure to accept the facts has brought us this far. We take money from US to run our economy. They send us transport choppers when our helicopters fail to evacuate masses from flood hit areas in big numbers. And yet we have a very big mouth and disrespectful heart for our feeding and supporting hand.Recommend

  • Amanatullah
    Jan 16, 2011 - 1:22AM

    I don’t understand why everyone is so pessimistic about Pakistan. Bomb blasts happen everywhere but media chooses to report only the ones in Pakistan. That too will end soon Inshallah. As for the economy, the bad numbers are in the books alone. I am sure we are doing fine and will be better than what we are today. We need to tap the natural resources in our country and stop depending on outside aid, we have enough coal supplies not just to earn & feed our population but also export this to the world. C’mon people be proud and optimist about our future!Recommend

  • sandy
    Jan 16, 2011 - 12:22PM

    Why is there no news about a visiting president of a frontline country on war on terror in any of the US newspapers??? CNN, NYT, Washington Post.. no newspaper have even bothered to write a half page on Mr 10% ???? Even in US television news there is no mention about a visiting president, where as insignificant news are shown. Is this the importance of the president of Pak???? This is very very shameful.Recommend

  • Zartashia Tariq
    Jan 18, 2011 - 6:49PM

    Pakistan is a developing country, going through critical times of its history. Such situations calls for additional responsibilities thus society is expected to nudge county on the way to progress while criticism for the sake of criticizing could further push Pakistan into quagmire of problems. Pakistanis as nation needs to learn, needs to realize and needs to stop negating positive steps waged by the government of Pakistan. A specific segment of society has recently displayed negative attitude regarding the recent visit of President of Pakistan Mr. Asif Ali Zardari to USA. Anchorpersons, columnists and T.V channels vehemently opened fire towards the President. They tried to prove this visit futile that could have been proved fruitful for Pakistan.

    I do not have any doubts that President Zardari embarked upon trip to US in larger interests of Pakistan and not for his own personal gains. The statement issued by the White House substantiates said claim. I am surprised over the mentality developed among segments of society that he does not aware of the problems of Pakistan; wonder If a common man is worried about the sensitive issues of the country, how president of country cannot be?Recommend

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