ASIANEWSPOLITICS

The United States and Pakistan – a strong and enduring relationship

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and First Lady Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif at the White House on October 22, 2015.  Their visit reinforced the commitment of both leaders to an enduring U.S.-Pakistan partnership, a prosperous Pakistan, and a more stable region.  The two leaders expressed their conviction that a resilient U.S.-Pakistan partnership is vital to regional and global security and reaffirmed their commitment to address evolving challenges in South Asia and beyond.  Since enactment of the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 (“Kerry-Lugar-Berman” or “KLB”), the United States has committed $5 billion in civilian assistance to Pakistan and over $1 billion in emergency humanitarian response to disasters and conflict, including for 2010 flood relief.  Security assistance has also strengthened cooperation on key national security interests.  Building on KLB, the leaders committed to fostering a deeper, stronger, more multi-dimensional partnership to cooperatively tackle the global challenges of the 21st century.  The leaders highlighted the following areas of U.S. cooperation:

Energy and Economic Growth

Energy: Since 2009, the U.S. Government helped add approximately 1,700 megawatts (MW) of electricity to Pakistan’s grid system, benefitting nearly 19 million Pakistanis.  U.S. assistance funded the construction and rehabilitation of a number of hydropower dams and thermal power plants.  U.S. assistance has also helped Pakistan improve governance and management systems, and increase revenue collection – by over $200 million in 2015– as well as provide commercial opportunities for U.S. businesses.  Efforts also include Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) debt financing and political risk insurance that support U.S. investments in Pakistan.  Additionally, U.S. business played an important role in facilitating Pakistan’s access to international liquefied natural gas (LNG) markets earlier this year.  The new U.S.-Pakistan Clean Energy Partnership (USCEP) will help the private sector add at least 3,000 MW of clean power generation infrastructure to Pakistan’s national electricity system over the next five years.

Bilateral Trade and Investment:  The United States and Pakistan will expand cooperation on the 2013 Joint Action Plan on Trade and Investment.  The United States remains Pakistan’s largest bilateral export market and a significant source of foreign direct investment.  In March 2015, during U.S.-Pakistan Economic Partnership Week, the first U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference held in Islamabad was headlined by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. To promote private investment, OPIC has facilitated $800 million in financing and insurance for projects in Pakistan.  Trade and investment assistance is provided under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

Regional Connectivity: To facilitate Pakistan’s regional trade efforts and in support of our shared security objectives, the United States has funded the construction and rehabilitation of approximately 1,000 kilometers of roads, including major trade routes between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The United States supports implementation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and anticipates collaboration with Pakistan upon its accession to the Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR) Convention.  The United States has contributed $15 million to date to the development of the Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000) project, which will transmit 1300 MW of electricity from Central Asia to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and supports the CASA-1000 Secretariat.

Private Sector Financing and Entrepreneurship:  The United States assists Pakistan’s small and medium enterprises, catalysts of its economic growth.  At the U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference in March 2015, Pakistani partner banks committed to provide up to $60 million in financing for businesses under the U.S.-Pakistan Partnership for Access to Credit, The U.S.-financed Pakistan Private Investment Initiative (PPII), a set of three investment funds that are matching U.S. funding one-to-one with private equity capital, will make over $150 million in financing available for small businesses. The U.S. Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative provides training and resources and sponsors a global pitch competition, GIST Tech-I, where a female Pakistani scientist won for the best healthcare startup.

Agriculture:  U.S. assistance has increased incomes for more than 800,000 farm households; increased sales by nearly $145 million; irrigated over 480,000 acres of land; facilitated nearly $57 million in exports of targeted commodities; and helped nearly 147,000 farmers and others apply improved technologies.  Forthcoming U.S. support will help producers and processors increase export sales by $250 million and leverage over $180 million in private sector investment.

Support in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA):  The United States and Pakistan are committed to strengthening governance, expanding development, and facilitating the voluntary return of 1.6 million displaced persons to the FATA.  During Secretary Kerry’s January 2015 visit to Pakistan, he pledged $250 million to assist in the relief, recovery, and rehabilitation of the region.  The United States continues to partner with Pakistan to reconstruct schools, hospitals, and infrastructure to restore communities and assist in the return of people to their homes.

Women’s Economic Advancement:  Women’s economic participation in Pakistan is advanced through theU.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council, established in 2012 by the State Department and American University (AU) in cooperation with Pakistani-Americans, and a 2014 U.S. – Pakistan MOU to Enable Women’s Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship.  The United States also sponsored the opening of the WECREATE Center in Islamabad, which works with women entrepreneurs in Pakistan.  The Council also established a university partnership in women’s entrepreneurship between AU and the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).  Joint trade missions, U.S. Department of Commerce business and trade capacity building, and new initiatives led by the Council’s corporate members also seek to increase women’s entrepreneurship and employment.  The USAID Gender Equity Program promotes women’s access to information, justice, and economic opportunities and helps address and prevent gender-based violence.

Education, Health, and Civil Society Cooperation

People-to-People Exchanges:  Approximately 1,200 Pakistanis came to the United States on U.S.-funded exchange programs in 2014.  There are more than 15,000 Pakistani alumni of U.S.-funded exchange programs, with many involved in the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network, which has 12 chapters throughout Pakistan.  These alumni create important intellectual and business links between U.S. and Pakistani institutions.

Higher Education: Pakistan is the recipient of the largest U.S. government funded Fulbright Program in the world.  Since 2009, the Fulbright Program has funded over 800 Masters and 200 PhD candidates and nearly 100 Senior Scholars from Pakistan.  The United States has also funded the Merit and Needs Based Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to talented but under resourced candidates to attend university in Pakistan, with over 40 percent awarded to women.  Through several programs, the United States has funded over 12,000 total scholarships for underprivileged students to attend university in Pakistan, 50 percent to women, and financed a new dormitory for women at Forman’s Christian College in Lahore.

Science and Technology Agreement:  Since 2003, the bilateral U.S.-Pakistan Science and Technology (S&T) Cooperation Agreement has provided a framework to increase cooperation in science, technology, engineering, and education.  In 2005, USAID, Pakistan’s Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Higher Education Commission launched the associated S&T Cooperation Program, which jointly funded nearly $34 million in collaborative research projects.  This year, the United States and Pakistan intend to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the seventh S&T Cooperation Program, which would funding a new phase of joint grants to enhance U.S.-Pakistan collaboration, research capacity in Pakistani universities, and S&T innovation.

University Partnerships:  The United States funds 23 partnerships between Pakistani and U.S. universities to facilitate professional development for faculty, curriculum reform, joint research, and peer-to-peer interaction.  In June 2015, USAID, in collaboration with Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission, launched the U.S.-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies, which established three centers in Pakistan through partnerships between four Pakistani and three U.S. universities in energy, water, and agriculture and food security.  The purpose of the centers is to foster long-term research collaboration, industry linkages and innovation, and university governance, prepare approximately 1,000 Pakistani graduates for employment, and provide scholarships.

University Governance: The Community College Administrator Program will enable Pakistanis in higher education to travel to the United States to learn about the U.S. community college system, building on theCommunity College Initiative Program, which enables Pakistani students to study and earn a professional certificate at a U.S. community college.

Basic Education:  Under a U.S.-Pakistan Basic Education Initiative, the United States is funding reading programs to improve the reading skills of 1.9 million primary grade students.  Since 2002, the United States and Pakistan have developed degree programs for education professionals.  The United States is funding the construction of state-of-the-art Faculty of Education buildings at 16 universities.  USAID has helped rebuild or renovate almost 1,000 schools since 2009.  The United States has also provided English language training to 9,400 underprivileged Pakistani teenagers countrywide.

Let Girls Learn:  Through Let Girls Learn, the United States, Pakistan, and other partners will help educate and empower more than 200,000 additional adolescent girls across Pakistan.  These efforts, which will also reduce barriers to girls’ success and address harmful practices and attitudes, will be enhanced through collaboration with other donors and the diaspora community, as well as through public-private partnerships such as the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council Summer Sisters program, which brings underprivileged Pakistani high school girls to explore education and career options at top U.S. universities.

English Language Programs:  The United States partners with a range of Pakistani institutions in English language teaching and learning.  Investing in teachers has a tremendous multiplier effect, directly reaching an average of 450 individuals each year and thousands more from expanded teaching capacity.  The English Access Microscholarship Program has provided two years of after-school English language instruction to more than 10,000 Pakistani adolescents from disadvantaged backgrounds since 2007.

Civil Society and Democratic Institutions:  The United States works with civil society organizations to strengthen human rights, advance rule of law reforms, combat intolerance, strengthen civil society, enhance media capacity, and safeguard media autonomy.  U.S. assistance includes: support for legal aid centers for vulnerable populations, strengthening university journalism programs for media professionals, and enhancing the skills of provincial women parliamentarians.  USAID programs have helped register more than 350,000 women with the National Database and Registration Authority and enabled 100 citizen committees with oversight roles, and integrated grassroots ideas into party platforms, with some becoming law.

Health Cooperation:  The United States and Pakistan cooperate extensively in the health sector to support family welfare and reproductive health.  Since 2010, USAID has trained over 29,000 health care workers, who served over 3.5 million community members throughout Pakistan.  Among program beneficiaries assessed in 2014, USAID-funded trainings and other activities resulted in a 52 percent increase in prenatal care visits and a 20 percent increase in deliveries with a skilled birth attendant. The United States and Pakistan also support the multilateral Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats.  To implement the GHSA and promote Pakistan’s health sector, the United States will support Pakistan’s efforts to: build capacity in the public and veterinary health workforce, advance an effective, safe, and secure laboratory system, counter antimicrobial resistance, integrate health surveillance information systems, and enhance multi-sectoral emergency response capability for epidemic threats.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, U.S. Marine Corps, salutes as he is introduced to a member of the Pakistani Joint Chiefs at the Joint Forces Command in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Mar. 20, 2006. (Photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, U.S. Air Force: Courtesy of WikiCommons)
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, U.S. Marine Corps, salutes as he is introduced to a member of the Pakistani Joint Chiefs at the Joint Forces Command in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Mar. 20, 2006. (Photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, U.S. Air Force: Courtesy of WikiCommons)

Countering Evolving Threats

Civilian Law Enforcement and Rule of Law:  Through training, equipment, and infrastructure assistance, the United States supports Pakistan’s efforts to enhance civilian law enforcement and justice institutions’ response to serious crime and terrorism.  The United States has trained over 17,000 provincial and federal law enforcement personnel since 2001, including women law enforcement units.  The United States and Pakistan have also worked closely to address the needs of Pakistan’s judiciary, prosecution services, and corrections system.  Since 2009, the United States has sponsored exchanges and provided training for over 1,000 Pakistani prosecutors and 212 judges and trained over 130 corrections and policy officials since 2012.  The U.S. counter-narcotics efforts support interdiction, demand reduction, and crop control.

Security Assistance:  The United States and Pakistan enjoy a positive security partnership and are working collaboratively to address security threats that both of our nations face.  Through security assistance, the United States has enhanced Pakistan’s capabilities to address its counterterrorism and counterinsurgency challenges in the FATA.  The United States has provided Pakistan with critical equipment and training to enhance key counterinsurgency and counterterrorism capabilities such as precision strike, air mobility, and counter improvised explosive devices.  Assistance has also supported Pakistan’s participation in international maritime coalition operations and enhanced its ability to patrol its coastal waters.

Military Training and Exchanges: The United States provides Pakistan’s military with training to promote regional stability, strengthen its counterterrorism and defense capabilities, enhance professionalism, promote human rights, and improve civilian-military relations.  Since 2009, the United States has trained over 2,300 members of the Pakistan military.  Pakistan is the largest partner for U.S. International Military Education and Training funding in the world.  In addition, the United States and Pakistan conduct military staff exchanges and joint training exercises to enhance coordination and interoperability between our militaries.

Countering Violent Extremism:  The United States works with Pakistani civil society and nongovernmental organizations to foster a stable Pakistan, increase capacity to counter violent extremist narratives, and reduce the number of individuals in Pakistan who accept the legitimacy of narratives that justify the use of violence.  Programs focus on vulnerable populations and include documentary films, interfaith dialogues, and madrassa training. More than 11,000 imams and teachers in over 2,600 madrassas received training in interfaith harmony and peacebuilding.

Improvised Explosive Devices:  In partnership with the United States, Pakistan has taken positive steps over the past two years to increase its controls and interdiction of the illicit supply of materials used to produce improvised explosive devices.  Through U.S. security assistance programs coordinated by the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency, the United States and Pakistan share technical expertise and equipment to improve Pakistan’s ability to detect and defeat these devices.

Source: White House

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