President asks US to help curb energy crisis


Zia Khan April 15, 2010

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari asked a US delegation on Wednesday for more assistance to overcome the country’s consistent energy crisis.

The call comes at a time when the power shortfall has risen to around 5,000 megawatts (MW) and has pushed frustrated household consumers and industries further into despair, triggering power riots across the country. The government has been criticised by the opposition paties for neglecting the issue of power shortages.

The president made the appeal to a delegation led by David Lipton, the senior director for the International Economics of the National Security Council.

“The president calls upon the US to assist Pakistan in energy and help the country overcome its power crisis that is adversely affecting the economy already ravaged by the war against militants,” said a statement issued here after the meeting.

Recent assessments by international organisations and local think tanks suggest the power crisis is a major threat for Pakistan’s economy that is already breathing on the $11.3 billion bailout package by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

During the strategic dialogue between the two countries, the US had agreed to invest around $150 million dollars to help revive Pakistan’s energy sector. However, President Zardari had said that Pakistan’s suffering in the “war on terror” was worth much more.

According to the statement, Lipton said the US understands the economic constraints of Pakistan and is committed to help in every possible way.

Meanwhile, the president also emphasised the need to expedite the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) legislation, a proposed project for the rebuilding process of the war-hit tribal belt. The legislation to establish US-sponsored industrial zones in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata) has been pending for some time now.

The president said if the reconstruction process is completed earlier, it would give people more hope for the future.

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