ISLAMABAD: Pakistan had to bear an expenditure of roughly 150 billion dollars for hosting three million Afghan Refugees, 10% of the total population of Afghanistan for the past thirty three years ,equal to one year of Pakistan’s GDP and one percent of the savings where total savings rate is two percent. This was stated by Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations while delivering his Keynote address to the 336 participants of United States Army War College on the “Situation in Afghanistan and its impact on Pakistan” here on Saturday.
The participants included 261 personnel from the US Army, Navy, Air force, Marines, Army reserves equivalent to the rank of Lt. Colonel and above, 33 Senior Civilians including representatives of National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security and 42 International fellows including one Brigadier from Pakistan.
He said that if cost on food per person was taken as one dollar per day per person, the sum comes up to 35 billion dollars so far, and as food is 50% of the expenses on how people live in their running costs, if you add another 50% for education, health and many other things, the total sum was over 72 billion dollars spent over this period of time, and if you take the capital expenditure of housing and many other such things, you can practically double it again – over 150 billion over many years . If the ancillary cots of United States were three trillion on the war on Iraq where it spent 600 billion dollars, the ancillary costs incurred by Pakistan can be well imagined.
Haroon said that the Afghan refugees took much from us. They impacted our environment, left us with a culture of Kalashnikovs, a weapon later used to challenge the government and drugs which has become a trauma in our society, he added. Today we have nearly gone broke, thanks to the IMF for having bailed us out.
Dilating on the relations between Pakistan and United States, Ambassador Haroon recalled that the first Prime Minster of Pakistan Mr Liaqat Ali Khan laid the Foundation of these relations when he visited United States on an official visit in 1950.Since then Pakistan has been maintaining close relations with the United States and has been a member of CENTO, SEATO and Baghdad pacts.
Pakistan’s relations with the United States became even closer as the two countries entered into closer co-operation in their support to the people of Afghanistan against the invasion by the Soviet Union in 1978.
Afghanistan, Ambassador Haroon said comprises of four distinct ethnic groups Pakhtoons, Tajeks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. These ethnic groups are distinct from each other and make Afghanistan a difficult country to govern, even when ruled by its own people. Its difficult and inhospitable terrain has only added to the miseries of any attempts by foreign power to subjugate it.
Ambassador Haroon said that the void left by the United States after the Soviets were defeated was filled by Taliban; they challenged the status quo and provided the people of Afghanistan religious education and their brand of Justice.
After 9/11, the United States eliminated the Taliban rule but failed to follow up with development. What was required was a strategy comprising a mix of political, military and development measures. The Americans failed to do so, providing an opportunity to Taliban to resurface, he added.
In response to a question regarding his advice for the next administration Ambassador Haroon reiterated his earlier proposal for the formation of a joint force of Pakistani, NATO and United States Troops as a border force to increase Co-ordination and curb terrorist across the Pak-Afghan border.
He also suggested the force should come under the command of Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani. This proposal was being made to end complaints of mistrust among coalition partners and provide much needed local experience, essential for success in Afghanistan.
Haroon said that their was a better understanding between the leadership of Afghanistan and Pakistan today and suggested that the new administration should increase economic assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan so that economic activity can be generated and basic needs of the people can be addressed, this he said will not cost much. “This amalgam of diverse interests under the nomenclature of Taliban has taken upon us, it is now Pakistan’s war” said Ambassador. “If the Taliban are not defeated history is a witness that whenever Khyber was breached, the battle has been fought in Panipat” cautioned Haroon.
Major General Robert Williams Commandant of the College introducing the College and participants said that the United States War College (USAWC) is a premier US institution for the education of strategic leaders for the study of the development and employment of land power in a joint interagency and multinational environment. The participants are future military and civilian leaders of the United States.-SANA