Taliban could 'go to India' if not stopped: Qureshi
16 Jun 2009, 1930 hrs IST, PTI
LONDON: The Taliban could spread beyond Pakistan's border to India and as far as the Persian Gulf if they were not stopped, foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said seeking more foreign aid to combat the terrorists. ( Watch )
"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 newspaper.
"There is a collective interest and there has to be a collective realization 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.