Of the 2.7 million people displaced in Pakistan in 2009, the UN estimates that as of
Speaking as someone who has taken a consistent interest in Pakistan for 30 years, I think that its interests are best served at all levels by free trade and democracy. To that end, what discussions have the Minister or his colleagues had at an EU level about extending the generalised system of preferences plus-GSP plus-trading system to Pakistan?
My hon. Friend will know that the people living in the North West Frontier region of Pakistan in Balochistan and Waziristan are tyrannised by the Taliban. They are controlled and threatened, and they feel powerless. What is the Department doing to ensure that these people are liberated?
One of the best ways to deal with extremism in the region is to ensure that we have sound development work on the ground, that there is good education for the people of Pakistan and, indeed, that we support the democratically elected Government of Pakistan in their aims.
As the Minister will be aware, the UN's humanitarian response plan for Pakistan sets out the need for more than $500 million in assistance to those internally displaced in 2010. However, when I visited Pakistan two weeks ago, I was told by the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs that it had been unable to launch this vital appeal. What discussions has the Minister had with the Pakistani Government to ensure that the UN can start raising funds for 2010 to ensure that help can reach the hundreds of thousands of people who need it?
The hon. Gentleman is right to point out the importance of the Pakistan humanitarian response plan. The 2009 appeal was 71 per cent. funded, making it the fourth best funded plan in that year. The United Kingdom is the second largest bilateral donor to Pakistan, and we are working with the Government of Pakistan to make sure that they launch their 2010 appeal for $537 million.
Since the Pakistani army commenced its operations against the Taliban, tens of thousands of people have fled the conflict zone, but many are now returning. What is being done to ensure that the aid we are giving to these people does not fall into the hands of the Taliban?
We work through the United Nations-supported humanitarian response plan and reputable non-governmental organisations, as well as local groups to which we can commit funds knowing that they will get through to the right people on the ground. All that funding is independently audited on a quarterly basis, and the information is made public.