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Pakistan rules out cut in defence budget
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November 04, 2005 19:22 IST

Pakistan has ruled out slashing its defence budget in the aftermath of the devastation caused by last month's earthquake even as it appealed for more international aid for relief and reconstruction work in the quake-ravaged areas.

"We are not going to slash the defence budget as peace lies in power, not in weakness.... Besides, circumstances in the South Asian region do not allow any decrease in the defence allocation," Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz was quoted as saying by The Nation daily on Friday.

To a question, he said the financial requirement for quake-hit areas would be met through other resources, including donations both from inside and outside the country.

"This is out of question that the defence budget is revised downward."     

Aziz's comments came as President Pervez Musharraf [Images] made a special appeal to the world community to step up the aid for the relief operations in Pakistan.

In an interview to BBC, the General said Pakistan needed more western aid to rebuild in the aftermath of the quake.

Accusing the world community of adopting double standards, he said Pakistan had not received the level of aid given after hurricane Katrina in the US or the tsunamis in several Asia Pacific countries.     

Musharraf, who plans to organise an international donors' conference in Islamabad on November 19, said 25 per cent of the money needed has been raised nd called on the international community, the Muslim world and ordinary Pakistanis to give generously.

He estimated that damage caused by the quake was valued at over $5 billion.

So far, over 74,000 people have been killed and over 63,000 injured in the October eight quake.

Suggesting that donations from the West were low because few western nationals were caught up in the earthquake, the General said, "the tsunami affected many people from many countries of the world, especially the west, who were tourists in various areas. Here, unfortunately, it is a remote area, poor people affected. I would appeal to the world to realise that it is these people who need aid much more because they are poor and are facing much harsher conditions than the tsunami."     

Besides, Prime Minister Aziz said the government has no plans to downsize the Public Sector Development Programme and diverting these funds for rehabilitation and reconstruction in the quake-ravaged areas.

"There is no such plan to cut the PSDP allocations but the priorities are reviewed after every three months," he said, adding, "The priorities are changed in view of prevailing circumstances and if there is some requirement, necessary changes will be made under the quarterly review."

Ruling out any long term effects of earthquake on Pakistan's economy, Aziz said the country has no plans to use its record level foreign exchange reserves for quake relief.     

"The quake may have a slight effect in the short-term but will not rock the economy in the long-term," he said in a separate interview to local daily The News.

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