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'Friends Of Pakistan' Group To Urge Islamabad Make Reforms

Internally displaced men block a road as they protest against the shortage of relief aid and the Pakistani government's handling of the crisis in Sukkur in September.
BRUSSELS -- A group of 26 countries and international organizations called Friends of Pakistan is gathering in Brussels to discuss the urgent need for reforms in Pakistan, RFE/RL reports.

European Union officials, speaking on behalf of the Friends of Pakistan, said on October 13 that most participants -- among them the United States, eight EU nations, Saudi Arabia, and Iran -- are expected to send foreign ministers to the second day of the meeting on October 15.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one EU official said the meeting was expected to impress upon Pakistani representatives the need for urgent administrative and institutional reforms to increase government accountability in spending the hundreds of millions of dollars in aid being donated to Pakistan in the wake of this summer's devastating floods.

Reforms have been on the agenda before, but "Pakistan must bite the bullet now," the official said.

He said that although there is no "hard and fast conditionality between aid money and reforms," publics in donor countries need reassurances that the money is not being wasted or misappropriated.

Some Pakistani provincial officials, most notably from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, have complained of not receiving international aid money sent in response to the devastating floods in the region this summer. Officials accused the central government in Islamabad of not disbursing the aid fairly.