22 May 2009

Allies promise $US224 million in aid for Pakistan

7:56 am on 22 May 2009

Pakistan's allies have promised $US224 million in aid for about 1.5 million people displaced by an offensive against the Taliban in the Swat Valley.

The United Nations has called for massive aid for displaced people there. Another 555,000 people were forced from their homes by earlier fighting in the northwest.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani told a conference of donors in Islamabad on Thursday that Pakistan was issuing an urgent call for help.

Minister of State for Finance Hina Rabbani Khar later said donors had promised $US224 million, including $US110 million from the United States on Tuesday.

She said the money would go towards an appeal to be launched by the United Nations on Friday for up to $US600 million.

Donors previously promised Pakistan more than $US5 billion several weeks ago.

The US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday approved tripling US economic aid to Pakistan to about $US1.5 billion per year for each of the next five years, including money for schools, the judicial system, parliament and law enforcement agencies.

President Asif Ali Zardari has said Swat is just the beginning and the army would next move against Taliban fighters in the Waziristan region on the Afghan border.