Bigger blowback from militants was feared, says minister

By Khaleeq Kiani in Baku (Azerbaijan) | 5/4/2015

THE government had apprehended `a much bigger blowback than it faced` of military operations launched to eliminate militants` sanctuaries in Waziristan, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said on Sunday.

Speaking at a panel discussion with the Asian Development Bank`s President Takehiko Nakao and Indian Finance Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi here, he said the security situation in Pakistan was the result of the global menace of terrorism `which travelled from sea to seaand escaped and took refuge in Pakistan` This caused over $100 billion economic loss to the country and left thousands of people dead, he said.

`It is the regional challenge, global fight. It is not only in Pakistan,` he said, adding that the international community wanted Pakistan to go after militants and destroy their sanctuaries.

Mr Dar said the armed forces had launched the operations with full support of the nation and the government and achieved `great successes` in destroying militant hideouts in the tribal belt.Pakistan had borne $1.75bn cost of the operation from its own resources. Besides, it undertook the post-operation rehabilitation process. The `security situation is improving very fast` he said.

`When you attacl< their sanctuaries like in Waziristan where core places also provide refuge to people from across the border and from other foreign places, it`s impossible to avoid a blowback,` he said, adding that a committee led by the prime minister, of which he was also a member, had decided to launch the operation and `estimated a much bigger blowback`.

He said last December`sdeadly attack on schoolchildren in Peshawar was a retaliation from elements who had no nationality and no religion but such incidents could not weaken the resolve of the nation, the government and the armed forces to eradicate terrorism.

He said the affected people had started to return to their homes and the rebuilding processin the areahadbegun.

The ADB chief said South Asia had the potential to deliver he `next Asian miracle` provided the countries improved their compatibilities, increased regional cooperation and focused on value chain linkages.

He said the region had to over-come security challenges and other deficiencies. The countries in the region have great potential and need prudent economic policies to adjust with the changing global environment by going ahead with structural reforms.

Mr Dar said the ADB could play a critical role in facilitating regional trade.

The Indian finance secretary did not agree with a questioner who said his country`s stock market had run out of steam in recent years. `Stock exchange is not a good indicator of anything at all,` he said, but conceded that his government was worried about `unconventional monetary policies of the US, Europeand Japan`. He said they should timely announce their policies to help others make adjustments.

He also conceded that `big bang reforms` expected of Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s government by the international community were not coming up with a `big bang` and said they would be cumulative and gradual.

Mr Dar separately told Dawn that apart from ADB meetings, he had been invited by the Azerbaijan president to the presidential palace where the two sides had agreed to convert theirfriendly politicalrelations into strategic economic and defence ties.

Published in Dawn