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2009年4月18日 (土)

パキスタン支援 アフガンとともに安定を図れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Apr. 18, 2009)
Stabilize Pakistan, Afghanistan together
パキスタン支援 アフガンとともに安定を図れ(4月18日付・読売社説)

To stabilize the situation in Afghanistan, which is struggling at the front line of the war on terrorism, support for its neighbor Pakistan must be expanded in a coordinated international action to bolster the security situation in both countries at the same time.

Thirty-one countries, including Britain, China and the United States, and 18 international organizations participated in a donors conference in Tokyo on Friday and decided to extend more than 5 billion dollars to Pakistan over the next two years. Japan and the United States each pledged 1 billion dollars.

Pakistan nearly defaulted on its debt last autumn, mainly because of the global financial crisis. Although the International Monetary Fund has decided to step in with an emergency loan program, the country was obliged to take steps to cut its fiscal deficit and adopt an austere monetary policy.


Militants hide out in Pakistan

Two militant groups--the Taliban, which opposes the Afghan government, and members of the international terrorism organization Al-Qaida--are holed up along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

They have been attacking U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces deployed in Afghanistan from Pakistan. When they are repulsed by U.S. and NATO forces, they flee into Pakistan, complicating mop-up operations by the U.S. and European forces.

Development of the region around Pakistan's border with Afghanistan has lagged behind, and the majority of the population there is poor. Cuts in development project budgets and the tight monetary policy may worsen poverty there and heighten the risk that the area, already a hotbed for terrorism, will breed even greater numbers of militants.

A destabilized Pakistan would be a nightmare for the international community because the country possesses nuclear weapons.

The participating nations at the donors conference decided to extend huge financial support to Pakistan because they decided that the vicious circle between poverty and terrorism must be ended.

However, there is little ground for optimism about the situation in Pakistan. President Asif Ali Zardari, who took office last year, is in confrontation with the opposition leader, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and lacks charisma.

Another problem is the presence in the military and other sectors of the Pakistani government of elements sympathetic toward Islamic militants. Coupled with anti-U.S. sentiment due to across-the-border attacks by U.S. drones, the Taliban have expanded its sphere of influence.

Zardari told the Tokyo conference that he intended to maintain his country's antiterrorist policy and called for the cooperation of the international community in that endeavor. Japan, which hosted the conference, must support Pakistan through official development assistance and other programs.

Also, international support for Afghanistan should be reinforced.


Bigger role possible for Japan

The United States plans to send more troops to Afghanistan and expand its support for the livelihood of the Afghan people. The latter is a field in which Japan has long played a leading role, such as by constructing schools and clinics. Therefore, the scope for active involvement by Japan in the reconstruction of Afghanistan will expand, we believe.

But in reality, support programs in the field have been mainly limited to those conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and nongovernmental organizations. It has been pointed out that there is work in which the Self-Defense Forces can actively be involved, for instance, in participation in provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) and dispatch of transport helicopters.

Although SDF dispatches to Afghanistan may be difficult under the current Diet situation, the government should keep studying the possibility of sending the SDF to the country.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 18, 2009)
(2009年4月18日01時28分  読売新聞)


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