All the speculations about the United States walking away from Pakistan this year have been proved wrong by the joint statement issued by the White House after this week's summit meeting between Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and US President Barack Obama in Washington D.C.
US-Pakistan Joint Statement:
The US-Pakistan joint statement
reaffirmed "enduring U.S.-Pakistan partnership" for "a prosperous Pakistan, and a more stable region." It commits the two sides to work "jointly toward strengthening strategic stability in South Asia". The statement further said that "President Obama expressed support for Pakistan’s efforts to secure funding for Diamer Bhasha
and Dasu dams to help meet Pakistan’s energy and water needs."
Referring to the strained India-Pakistan ties, the statement said that both leaders "emphasized the importance of a sustained and resilient dialogue process between the two neighbors aimed at resolving all outstanding territorial and other disputes, including Kashmir, through peaceful means and working together to address mutual concerns of India and Pakistan regarding terrorism".
US Assistance to Pakistan:
There are also media reports indicating that President Obama has decided to sell 8 new F-16s to Pakistan. Mr. Obama has also pledged $900 million in assistance to Pakistan for 2015-16
. In addition, both Washington Post and New York Times have reported that the United States wants to negotiate a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan. Pakistan has said it will not accept any conditions that limit its nuclear weapons program in exchange for a civil nuclear deal with the United States.
India's Strong Negative Reaction:
As expected, India has reacted with anger
to references to US support for strategic stability in South Asia region, support for Diamer Bhasha dam
financing and resolution of Kashmir issue through peaceful means. The reports of F-16 sale to Pakistan and possible US-Pakistan civil nuclear deal have also elicited a strong negative reaction in New Delhi.
The US-Pakistan joint statement and several White House fact sheets have detailed US-Pakistan cooperation in education, energy, trade and investment, defense, cybersecurity and counter terrorism.
Under the U.S.-Pakistan Clean Energy Partnership
, the United States said it "will work with the Government of Pakistan to advance energy sector reforms, improve the investment framework, and make targeted investments that will enable U.S., Pakistani, and international private sector developers to add at least 3,000 megawatts (MW) of clean power generation
infrastructure to Pakistan’s national electricity system, benefitting 30 million Pakistanis".
Under the Education partnership
, the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), committed $70 million to work jointly with the Government of Pakistan and other partners to help educate and empower more than 200,000 additional adolescent girls across Pakistan.
The United States is already funding three centers for advanced studies for agriculture, energy and water under the education partnership. The Center For Advanced Studies in Agriculture is at the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, the Center For Advanced Studies in energy at Peshawar University and the Center For Advance Studies in water at Mehran University. These centers are working with major US universities.
Under Trade and Investment Partnership
, the United States will help upgrade the capabilities of the ready-made garments (RMG) sector through support of vocational centers dedicated to RMG and improvements in industry labor conditions. U.S. assistance will also help scale-up Pakistan’s International Labor Organization (ILO)-International Labor Standards (ILS) Textile program and support the launch of an ILO “Better Work Program.” Also, the United States will support an investment event in New York to highlight opportunities in Pakistan’s RMG industry and other sectors. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will assist the Government of Pakistan in identifying and petitioning for additional GSP tariff lines and to obtain eligibility for exports of goods under newly GSP-eligible travel goods tariff lines.
The latest Obama-Sharif Summit in Washington has cleared up any confusion that may have been created by the continuing US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and the expiration of Kerry-Lugar Bill. The US-Pakistan joint statement has firmly established continuing US interest in maintaining close ties with Pakistan. Pakistan's strategic location makes it attractive to both the United States and China
, the world's two largest economic and military powers, to maintain close ties with it. What comes out of these ties will ultimately be determined by how well the Pakistani leaders leverage them for maximum benefit for the well-being of the people of Pakistan.
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