This week ONE was part of a campaign coalition that delivered a petition signed by over 200,000 people (including more than 60,000 ONE members) calling for Pakistan’s debt to be frozen. This sent a strong message from members of ONE and our campaign partners Oxfam, Avaaz and Jubilee Debt Coalition, that rich countries should ensure Pakistan has as much of its own resources possible to spend on reconstruction after the devastating floods earlier this year.
The 202,381 person strong petition was delivered at the Pakistan Development Forum in Islamabad, a meeting of countries who provide aid to Pakistan, where the issue of debt and long term poverty reduction was being discussed. Stephen Engelken, a senior US Diplomat in Pakistan, received the petition and passed our message on to representatives from other countries and the IMF (the international institution which oversees countries’ debt).
The current position of these countries is that they aren’t prepared to freeze or help with the debt until Pakistan’s Government makes it clear it will spend the money to help those affected by the floods. However they are leaving the door open for a positive decision in the near future.
Two things need to happen next: the Pakistan Government should establish a clear and publicly transparent fund, demonstrating how debt money will be spent on reconstruction and helping those that have been affected, and showing how it will account for this. And rich countries need to make clear that resources freed up by help with Pakistan’s debt support is used to assist those affected by the floods, in an open, transparent way with clear monitoring. Campaigners in Pakistan and around the world will continue to put pressure on both sets of Governments to do this.
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