By Amena Bakr
DUBAI, Nov 1 (Reuters) – Pakistan plans to send an official delegation to the United States in mid-November to attract investment in a bid to revive its economy following a series of militant attacks, a senior official said on Sunday.
Last month, suicide bomb blasts targeted the United Nations, army headquarters, police and general public, killing more than 150 people.
â€œThe recent attacks did have a negative impact on the perception (of the country), but at the same time Pakistan is a growing country and investors have to be in it for the long term,â€ Waqar Ahmed Khan, Pakistanâ€™s minister of investment, told Reuters during a visit to Dubai.
A delegation headed by Khan, along with businessmen from Pakistan, will head to Washington on Nov. 18, he said.
â€œFrom the United States we are seeking trade, not aid, because thatâ€™s whatâ€™s going to really help stimulate our economy,â€ he said, adding that opening up trade between the two countries would support political stability.
â€œThe growth of the economy and fighting terrorism go hand-in-hand and the government is committed to protecting investorsâ€™ interests.â€
U.S. President Barack Obama has also said increased aid and trade will be tools to fight Islamic extremism both in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.
Congress has just approved a bill tripling aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year for the next five years, but with conditions attached that have unleashed a storm of protest from Pakistanis who say the country is being humiliated.
Last month, a delegation headed by the Turkish prime minister was in Islamabad to discuss investment opportunities, said Khan.
â€œThe Turkish investors are now in talks to establish textile factories, lease land for agriculture projects and are also looking at the livestock and dairy industries,â€ he said.
Pakistanâ€™s GDP growth is expected to be between 2.5 and 3.5 percent in the fiscal year 2009/10, up from 2.0 percent in the previous year, the central bank said in its annual report released on Thursday.
â€œDespite all the recent attacks I think that the GDP will remain on the positive side this year, and I also expect foreign investment to increase during the forth quarter,â€ said Khan, without giving further details.
Net foreign investment in Pakistan fell 28.9 percent to $671.1 million in the first three months of the 2009/10 fiscal year, beginning on July 1, compared with $943.4 million in the same period a year earlier.
(Reporting by Amena Bakr; Editing by Nick Macfie)