US Consul sees bright future for Pakistan
US Consul General to Lahore Zachary Harkenrider said on Sunday that Pakistan had a bright future ahead and all efforts of the US Mission were dedicated towards a stable, peaceful and prosperous Pakistan. "I am confident that Pakistan will find a path to security issues, achieve economic growth and prosperity," he said in an exclusive interview with the APP here. The Consul General talked at length about the US cooperation on the energy, economic, agriculture, education, science and technology, health fronts besides sports and cultural initiatives of the US Consulate in Lahore to strengthen ties between the two countries with special focus on the province of Punjab.
He said the Punjab government under Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif was doing a splendid job as it had achieved marvelous success on the energy, economic, education, infrastructure fronts besides sports and culture, adding the US consulate in Lahore and the USAID collaborate with the Punjab government to provide assistance in education, energy and agriculture sectors. To a question, the US diplomat said the consulate had taken initiatives to enhance the business ties between the Punjab and the US, adding the US consulate had been working extensively businesses through the chambers of Commerce of Industry and the business community to identify opportunities for Pakistani and Punjabi businesses to work in the US, to partner with the US firms and to sell the Pakistani products in the US markets and the US products here.
He said, as a result of these efforts by the consulate, Pakistani textile products had access to the US textile market while the US products had access to the markets in Punjab, adding the US and the Pakistani products had access to markets in both the countries while the US brands have also increased over the recent years. He said the Lahore consulate also serves as a bridge to foster Pak-US diplomatic relations and ensures that Islamabad and the Washington were kept abreast of the ground realities, adding that policies are shaped and formed by the views of our interlocutors at the provincial level. About the US assistance in the energy sector, Harkenrider said the US investments in the energy sector had increased a great extent during the past 7 years and the US government had added 1700 MW electricity to the national grid and that is enough electricity for 19 million people. He said the USAID had restored the capacity of thermal power plants in Guddu, Jamshoro and Muzaffargarh and enhanced the capacity of existing hydro power facilities.
He said 22,000 capacitors and electronic meter reading meters have been installed at the grid stations, adding that unscheduled load-shedding had been reduced by 94 percent due to installation of electronic control rooms in major cities with the USAID assistance which saved 157 million dollars to the distributing companies. Talking about the initiatives in the education sector, the CG Harkenrider said five new faculties of education had been constructed in Punjab including Punjab University and University of Education, Lahore, Islamia University Bahawalpur, Bahauddin Zakria University Multan and Fatima Jinnah University Rawalpindi, adding that these would serve as venues to train future teachers. He said that a large number of scholarships had been offered to the students to study in the US while 3,000 Fulbright scholarships were being offered to Pakistani students and scholars over the past 68 years. Harkenrider said the US government had also provided assistance to Punjab in agriculture sector and provided training and technical assistance to improve various dairy development projects under which 22,000 farmers have been trained.