The Taliban could spread
beyond Pakistan's border to India and as far as the Persian Gulf if they
were not stopped, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said
seeking more foreign aid to combat the terrorists.
"They (Islamic militants)
have a global agenda, they have a regional agenda, they are not confined to
Pakistan. They could go in to the (Persian) Gulf, they could go in to India,
they can go anywhere," Qureshi told the Financial Times.
"There is a collective
interest and there has to be a collective realisation that this is not
Pakistan's problem (alone). It's a larger problem," he said. He said
Pakistan would need up to 2.5 billion dollars in emergency relief and for
long-term reconstruction of the Swat valley and the surrounding region, once
the fighting between government troops and militants, now in its final
stage, ends. Government officials had initially estimated a figure of one
billion dollars in aid.
The warning comes as
Pakistan widens its military offensive to other Taliban strongholds such as
the Waziristan tribal region along the border with Afghanistan. Pakistan has
earmarked Rs 50 billion for aid for the Northwest in its 2009-10 budget.
However, Qureshi warned that if more money needed to be diverted from state
coffers, the country's economy -- and its efforts to fight the Taliban -
would suffer. "It will slow down our recovery. It will compromise our
ability to fight militancy, obviously poverty levels will go up, obviously
it will help the militants," he said.
The US has begun lobbying
the governments of the oil-rich Arab Muslim countries of the Gulf
Co-operation Council (GCC) to be more generous in helping Pakistan deal with
the fallout of the offensive in the Swat valley.