US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday US pledged a $125 million aid to boost the energy sector in Pakistan, besides allowing Pakistani products access to US markets and speeding up military equipment transfers, Geo News reported.
In a joint press briefing with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi here after holding the strategic dialogue with the Pakistani delegation, she termed the strategic sitting important not only for Pakistan but also for the US administration.
She pledged American assistance to develop the agriculture sector in Pakistan besides extending assistance to maximise the exports of Pakistan. ‘Pakistani products will now have access to US markets,’ she said, adding that the US would provide cooperation in the establishment of three thermal power plants to lessen the power crisis in Pakistan. The US would also help Pakistan expand the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), she said.
Clinton said that the US would sign a letter for ‘significant road infrastructure’ in Pakistan’s troubled northwest without offering a figure. ‘Pakistan is on the frontline of confronting violent extremism that threatens us all, and Pakistan’s civilian and security forces continue to bear the brunt of that fight,’ Clinton said.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that US suspicions of his country have evaporated, with officials no longer questioning Islamabad’s commitment to fight extremism. Qureshi, who was holding a first-of-a-kind ‘strategic dialogue’ with the United States, said ‘the mood was completely different’ from previous visits to Washington.
‘I was at the Senate; I was at the House. It’s a 180-degree difference,’ he told a joint news conference with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. ‘There were no more question marks, there was no suspicion, there was no ‘do more,” he said. ‘There was appreciation for what we had already done.’
‘We’ve agreed to fast-track our requests, that have been pending for months and years, on the transfer of military equipment to Pakistan,’ Qureshi told said. Hillary Clinton, earlier in the dialogue, said that the US supported dialogue between India and Pakistan, while Shah Mehmood Qureshi called for a ‘constructive engagement’ by the United States on Kashmir.
Asked about Qureshi’s remarks later at the joint news conference, Clinton said that the US supported reconciliation efforts between India and Pakistan. ‘The issues that are part of that dialogue need to be addressed and resolution of them between the two countries would certainly be in everyone’s best interest,’ she said, without explicitly mentioning Kashmir.
Clinton said that the United States wanted to be a partner of Pakistan on ‘a full range of matters.’ ‘We can’t dictate Pakistani foreign policy or Indian foreign policy. But we can encourage, as we do, the in-depth discussion between both countries that we think would benefit each of them with respect to security and development,’ she said.
Speaking at an early-morning ceremony, Hillary Clinton said the US had started a ‘new day’ with Pakistan in hearing its concerns. Clinton said she wanted to speak directly to its people, acknowledging that the two nations ‘have had our misunderstandings and disagreements in the past.’
‘There are sure to be more disagreements in the future, as there are between any friends or, frankly, any family members,’ she said. ‘But this is a new day. For the past year, the Obama administration has shown in our words and deeds a different approach and attitude toward Pakistan.’
‘The dialogue we seek is not only with the government of Pakistan, but you the people of Pakistan,’ she said, vowing that both she and President Barack Obama had a ‘personal commitment’ to building ties with Islamabad.
Clinton said stability of Pakistan was in the world’s interest. Pointing to Pakistan’s growing action against extremism, she pledged full support, saying, ‘Its struggles are our struggles.’ Reiterating US support in the fight against terror to the nation, she affirmed that the Taliban were trying to consolidate in Pakistan, and it would be a threat for humanity as well as for the region.
She said that the Taliban wanted to destabilise Pakistan, and ‘we have to work together for their complete eradication.’ She said that the both nations are looking for a successful composite dialogue, as it would not be a one time dialogue.
She also lauded the role of Pakistan towards the establishment of peace in South Asia and termed the security and stability of Pakistan a top priority. ‘Pakistan’s military has mounted successful military operations against terrorists. Pakistan’s security agencies have captured many notorious al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists,’ she said.
She made it clear that during the conversation, the United States will address Pakistan’s energy needs for the citizens of the nation. Clinton said that the stability and security of Pakistan was important for the world and the US would continue its maximum help to strengthen Pakistan.
She said, ‘We know that Pakistan is facing a severe problem due to the energy shortage in the country. And we will not let Pakistan alone in these intermingled problems and the US would always be on the side of Pakistan in its hour of need. The people are facing severe blackouts due to unavailability of electricity. Farmers are worried about the future of the agriculture sector due to the shortage of water in the country.’
Qureshi expressed gratitude for US assistance and pledged that Pakistan would keep up the fight against extremism. But he made it clear that Pakistan wanted benefits in return. Qureshi said that Pakistan was seeking ‘non-discriminatory’ access to energy resources as well as a ‘constructive’ role by the United States on its dispute with India over Kashmir. ‘Such a partnership, we are convinced, is good for Pakistan, good for America and good for international peace, security and prosperity,’ he said.
‘Pakistan is committed to doing its part to facilitate the world community’s effort for peace and stability in Afghanistan,’ Qureshi said. ‘We hope the world community will be equally responsive to our legitimate concerns and help advance common interests,’ he said.
He said the war against terrorism had seriously damaged Pakistan’s economy, as Pakistan has got nothing but bomb blasts in response to waging war against terrorism. Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, US defence Secretary Robert Gates and Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Chairman Joint Chiefs Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, senior advisers and officials attended the dialogue.
News Desk adds: The US has also agreed to pay Pakistan its military spending in anti-terror operations in two installments.