TOKYO: The U.S. and Japan pledged $1 billion each at an international donors' conference for Pakistan on Friday to help bolster the country's flagging economy and fight the war on terror.
Saudi Arabia pledged $700 million and the EU another $640 million.
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said in a speech opening the one-day conference in Tokyo that the meeting was aimed at bolstering stability — in both Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan — by providing infrastructure and economic support.
"Stability in border areas is a key and I want to stress that the international community supports comprehensive strategies by the two nations," he said.
Aso announced Thursday that Japan would provide up to $1 billion in aid to support Pakistan's economic reforms and its fight against terrorism, while the U.S. issued a statement Friday that it will give $1 billion.
Both countries will make their contributions over the next two years, and neither represented a dramatic change from their current pattern of donations. The EU and Saudi pledges were also for the next two years.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was hoping for as much as $6 billion in pledges, but the meeting's Japanese hosts said they expected the figure to be closer to $4 billion.
"There is a desire to help Pakistan," Zardari said. "But I feared, I still fear, that the understanding of the danger that Pakistan faces still does not register fully in the minds of the world."
"If we lose, you lose," he added. "If we lose, the world loses."
Japan stressed that the conference would try not to get too involved in issues more closely associated with Afghanistan, but noted a growing awareness that the two often overlap and can be hard to deal with separately.
"Presidential elections in August in Afghanistan should be carried out smoothly, freely and fairly. This is vital for stability in Afghanistan, and the international community needs to support it," Aso said. "Japan supports the elections and will give assistance, including paying the salaries for 80,000 Afghan police for a half year."
The conference, supported by the World Bank, was attended by about 25 countries and 16 international organizations.
Japan provided Pakistan with 48 billion yen ($480 million) in development assistance in 2008.
The U.S. contribution was seen as a down payment that will go toward Washington's previously announced plans to give Pakistan $1.5 billion in aid each year for the next five years. Separately, a $7.6 billion bailout has been granted by the International Monetary Fund to avert the country's most recent balance-of-payments crisis.
As part of the IMF deal, Pakistan has been asked to reduce its fiscal deficit and to tighten its monetary policy.
Pakistan's leaders have said they do not want the international community to "micromanage" its economy.
But the central bank forecast this month that economic growth for the year through June will slump to between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent, far below the 5.5 percent the government had projected — and too slow to create enough jobs for its fast-growing population of about 170 million people.
In response, the government has had to slash its development budget but is resisting calls to tax the narrow landowning elite that dominates its politics. Industry is also hampered by severe power shortages that are not expected to ease until next year at the earliest.
Economic improvement in Pakistan is seen as a key not only to preventing the expansion of poverty, but also to slowing the growth of terrorism, which depends on the poor to fill its ranks.