Pakistan not to accept any US aid with strings: Ahsan Iqbal

Islamabad: Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal emphatically states Pakistan is a sovereign country and will not accept any US aid with strings.

Talking to media persons here Tuesday‚ he‚ while referring to a resolution passed by US congress linking aid to Pakistan with the release of Shakil Afridi‚ said there should be respect for each other’s laws.

He said relations between the two countries should be based on equality and respect for each other’s sovereignty. He said the US administration also wants to further relations with Pakistan and hoped it will impress upon the congress to refrain from such a step.

The Minister said Pakistan’s foreign policy is based on principles of strengthening relations with all states while protecting the interests of the country.

Referring to the trade concessions given by the European Union to Pakistan‚ Ahsan Iqbal said Islamabad is negotiating with the United States to secure enhanced access to American market. Besides‚ he said we want increased investment from the United States in Pakistan.

Earlier‚ addressing the second annual conference of Pakistan Strategy Support Program‚ the Minister expressed the government’s resolve to turn around the economy in the next few years. He said we are taking difficult decisions today for the better future of the country.

Ahsan Iqbal said the government is committed to accelerate the pace of agriculture and livestock development in order to enhance growth rate‚ ensure food security and reduce poverty.

He said we are eyeing seven to eight percent plus growth rate by 2025 to meet requirements of the population and ensure social order in the country. He said the high growth rate of agriculture sector could be achieved by addressing gaps in the agriculture productivity.

He said there is also dire need to develop quality storage facilities besides bringing value addition in the agriculture yield to alleviate poverty.

In his remarks‚ Mission Director of USAID Pakistan Gregory Gottieb said his agency is working on sixty projects indifferent sectors in Pakistan‚ including energy‚ supplies and education.

It has also helped Pakistan in building several important institutions. He reassured continued US support to help Pakistan boost its economic growth.