US wants to build ties with Pak­istan on mu­tual re­spect: Os­lon

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

IS­LAM­ABAD

The US Am­bas­sador to Pak­istan Richard Ol­son has said that the United States was look­ing for­ward to build­ing a re­la­tion­ship with Pak­istan based on his­tor­i­cal part­ner­ship, com­mon in­ter­ests and mu­tual re­spect. In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Ra­dio Pak­istan the Am­bas­sador said there have been chal­lenges in the bi­lat­eral ties but the re­la­tion­ship are now on the sta­ble foot­ing fol­low­ing in­ten­sive en­gage­ments be­tween the two coun­tries.

He said Sec­re­tary of State Hi­lary Clin­ton of­fered apol­ogy for loss of life at Salala and the United States wel­comes de­ci­sion of Pak­istan to re­open sup­ply lines.

He re­ferred to the vis­its of Pres­i­dent Asif Ali Zar­dari and For­eign Min­is­ter Hina Rab­bani Khar to the United States and said there would be vis­its from Wash­ing­ton as well for talks on is­sues in­clud­ing Pak­istan’s en­ergy re­quire­ments.He said it was im­por­tant for the United States to have good re­la­tions with Pak­istan. It rec­og­nizes the im­por­tance of defin­ing re­la­tion­ship with Pak­istan not just in terms of Afghanistan but be­yond 2015 through the cen­tury. He said Pak­istan would be­come fourth largest coun­try in the world and that is one of the rea­sons to have con­tin­ued en­gage­ments with the coun­try. Re­ply­ing to a ques­tion,Richard Ol­son said the United States ap­plauded demo­cratic ten­den­cies in Pak­istan and hoped that free and fair gen­eral elec­tions would lead to peace­ful trans­fer of author­ity from one civil­ian gov­ern­ment to suc­ces­sor dis­pen­sa­tion. He said com­ple­tion of the term by a demo­crat­i­cally elected gov­ern­ment is a mile­stone in Pak­istan’s his­tory.

About his re­cent meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Asif Ali Zar­dari, he said they ex­changed views on a num­ber of is­sues of mu­tual and re­gional in­ter­est. Re­spond­ing to ques­tions about bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship be­tween Pak­istan and the United States, the Am­bas­sador said his coun­try was pre­pared to make its con­tri­bu­tion for con­struc­tion of Di­amer-Bhasha dam, which is a high pri­or­ity with Pak­istan.

He pointed out that this be­ing a costly project and a con­sor­tium of coun­tries and mul­ti­lat­eral in­sti­tu­tions will have to be formed to ar­range its fund­ing.

He said the United States was ac­tively sup­port­ing Pak­istan to over­come its en­ergy short­fall. “The US has helped Pak­istan up­grade hy­dro-elec­tric­ity projects to add 400 MW to the na­tional grid and the tar­get is to add 900 more MW by the next year,” added Ol­son. The am­bas­sador said the US ap­pre­ci­ated Pak­istan’s em­pha­sis on trade-not-aid. He said ex­pan­sion of trade would re­main high on his pri­or­ity as US en­voy to Pak­istan.

He said the United States wants to con­clude the Bi­lat­eral In­vest­ment Treaty as soon as pos­si­ble as it would sup­port in­vest­ment in both coun­tries.

To an­other ques­tion, he said the United States was work­ing on a num­ber of pro­grammes to help ex­pe­dite so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in FATA. He said their fo­cus is on health, ed­u­ca­tion and wa­ter. The US Am­bas­sador ac­knowl­edged the sac­ri­fices of­fered by Pak­istan in war on ter­ror and said forty thou­sand Pak­ista­nis have lost their lives in the con­flict. The Am­bas­sador wel­comed visit of the Afghan High Peace Coun­cil del­e­ga­tion to Pak­istan hop­ing that it would lead to con­crete steps to­wards rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Afghanistan. He said Wash­ing­ton ap­pre­ci­ates the in­vi­ta­tion by Pak­istan to the del­e­ga­tion and the visit of Salaud­din Rab­bani was a very wel­come de­vel­op­ment. Re­ply­ing to a ques­tion Richard Ol­son said the United States and Afghanistan .

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