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Pakistani President: Flood Recovery Could Take Three Or More Years

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari
President Asif Ali Zardari says it could take Pakistan three years or more to recover from the devastating flooding that has left millions of people homeless.

In interviews with journalists on August 23, Zardari also warned that Pakistan must be vigilant to prevent Islamic militants from exploiting the crisis to win recruits or stage attacks.

In Washington, meanwhile, a senior International Monetary Fund (IMF) official said Pakistani leaders will face hard choices as they decide how to allocate scarce resources for rebuilding following the floods.

Masood Ahmed, director of the IMF's Middle East And Central Asia Department, spoke to Reuters on August 23 as IMF and Pakistani officials began talks in Washington on how to handle the fiscal pressures arising from the floods.

Ahmed said it was already clear that the floods will have what he called a "major and lasting impact" on Pakistan's economy. He said the talks with the IMF will focus on the impacts rebuilding will have on Pakistani growth, inflation, and the budget.

He added that foreign aid will be vital, considering the spending restraints inside Pakistan and because the government will have to contend with problems including a humanitarian crisis, damage to food crops and infrastructure, and lower tax revenues.

The IMF and Pakistani sides are expected to discuss, in particular, the future of a more than $10 billion IMF loan program for Pakistan that was agreed in 2008.

compiled from agency reports