Let me first congratulate the co-chairs, Lady Catherine Ashton and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmod Qureshi for convening us here and for the successful conduct of this important gathering. I would also like to welcome the new Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to Pakistan, Mr. Rauf Engin Soysal, and Egypt, who is participating in this forum for the first time through Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
Let me begin by recognizing the plight of the Pakistani people in the difficult times your country is undergoing these days. As was just said by Foreign Minister Bildt, the recent floods came on top of the already dire situation that the country was undergoing when this group was established in the first place two years ago. The needs are, obviously, even more urgent now.
Norway recognizes that the magnitude of problems that Pakistan is currently facing clearly warrants a substantial international effort. The challenges are simply too large for Pakistan to solve on its own. And we, the international community, are ready to help.
Norway stands by the people of Pakistan. On the humanitarian side, we have donated 70 million USD in 2010 alone. Let me use this opportunity once again to reiterate the importance of humanitarian access to all parts of the country.
However, today’s focus is, and should be, the issue of longer-term reconstruction and development efforts.
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Let me therefore make two basic points at this stage.
First; a message to the Government of Pakistan;
We commend the messages you, Minister Qureshi and State Minister Rabbani Khar, made at the opening about your own need to reform your administrative system and strengthen good governance. We know that it is not easy, given your past history and your rather complicated political situation, but our view is that there is simply no escape from doing so.
Pakistan needs to strengthen its governmental capacity in many respects. You need to ensure better participation, not only in politics but also in the economic sphere. The enormous inequalities between rich and poor are simply not sustainable. You will need to broaden your tax base. There is private wealth in Pakistan, not the least in the large agricultural sector; the problem is that the most affluent in your country do not contribute to the common cause. This undermines state capacity in Pakistan, but more than that, it undermines internal political cohesion. And you need to strengthen accountability and transparency. It is my conviction that this is important for you – the government of Pakistan – for your own development. But let me also point out that such moves are also important for us on the donor side. It is hard to convince our taxpayers that we should spend their money in your country, as long as the most affluent citizens of Pakistan do not.
My second message is to ourselves, the international community.
The Pakistani State Minister for Economic Affairs, Ms. Rabbani Khar, is perfectly right. We – the international community – tend to be heavily fragmented. We frequently talk about coordination. But quite often, what we practice is little more than supply-driven information sharing which we then label coordination. We simply tell each other what we are doing or going to do. In my mind, that is not coordination. Real coordination must be strategic. It is about making priorities. It is about sticking to those priorities, once we have made them. That means that we may have to cut our own pet projects and our – at times – somewhat awkward and internally conflicting reporting requirements and behave more as a donor collective. Furthermore, it is about assessing the impact of what we do. And finally it is – as the State Minister said in her intervention –about re-prioritising underway, if circumstances change or if it turns out that our responses does not create the intended effect. We need to listen to what the Pakistanis say.
Furthermore, it is important that we – the international community - make sure that we work through Pakistani institutions rather than around them. We all know that in some sectors, these institutions are weak or under-resourced. We may also have our concerns about everything from slow implementation of projects to the risk of corruption, which sometimes may lead us to try to do the work ourselves in Pakistan rather than with Pakistan. However, the only path to sustainable development goes through genuine institution-building. This is important to ensure national (or local) ownership, to make sure that the priorities that are made are Pakistani rather than donor priorities – and it is important in order to make politics relevant. If we systematically bypass the Pakistani Government, this may cause ordinary citizens to wonder why at all they should vote in elections – which again could undermine political cohesion. Hence, my appeal is that we do our utmost to ensure that whenever possible, we apply an institution-building perspective to our efforts as donors in Pakistan.
Let me end by congratulating the work of the Energy Sector Task Force. We think this is a job well done. Norway stands ready to assist with technical expertise and institutional capacity-building in the hydro-electric, solar and wind power sectors. We have significant expertise in these areas and stand ready to commit resources and know-how within this sector – which indeed is one of the identified main priorities for the rebuilding of Pakistan.
Madam Chair, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attention.