RE - US Assistant Secretary of State Robert O Blake has said that the United States is considering establishing an investment fund for American businessmen that would help provide them new opportunities to invest in Pakistan.
The US Assistant Secretary of State was addressing a select gathering at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday. LCCI former Vice President Shahzad Ali Malik, US Consul General in Lahore Carmela Conroy, former LCCI Presidents Iftikhar Ali Malik, Mohammad Ali Mian and Convener Standing Committee on Diplomatic Missions Mian Tariq Misbah also spoke on the occasion.
Mr Robert O Blake said that the United States was working on many fronts to help Pakistan achieve economic stability. He said the US was about to begin work on Bilateral Investment Treaty. There is considerable effort being undertaking now in Washington so it is expected that the Bilateral Investment Treaty would be ready soon after which bilateral negotiations with Pakistan would be started.
He said that the United States was going to add a new page is Pak-US relations by maximizing it support in a number of sectors including power, Agriculture, Market access, infrastructure and water.
The US Assistant Secretary of State pledged American Assistance in overcoming electricity shortage developing agriculture sector besides cooperation to maximize exports of Pakistani products.
He said this was a very historic juncture now in relations between Pakistan and the United States. The strategic dialogue between Pakistan and the United States aimed at broadening and deepening Pak-US partnership in a very systematic way. The US official said that this time it was different because for the first time a steering group and working groups were being established that would cover all aspects of bilateral relations particularly the trade and investment areas. The US sees Pakistan as an extra ordinary important partner right now not only in dealing with terrorism but also in helping to achieve stability in this strategically important part of the world. We want to help government in overcoming energy shortage and to delivers basic services to people and also improve governance. He said that it was quite important that trade and business organizations like LCCI should take responsibility of advising the govt about the areas in which the govt should focus.
It is also very important that the LCCI should give advice to the United States about where the opportunities are for American business here in Pakistan. On Pak-India relations, he said that the United States is a good friend of both Pakistan and India and will certainly encourage dialogue and partnership between the two countries. He said that the Indus Water Treaty provides an independent arbitration mechanism if Pakistan feels that there is serious violation of Indus Water Treaty by India, then it should take that violations to that mechanism.
Speaking on the occasion, LCCI former Vice President Shahzad Ali Malik gave an update to the US officials on various initiatives taken by the Lahore Chamber including establishment of Pakistan Water Front and preparation of an Economic Agenda for the year 2010-2030.
Shahzad Ali Malik while talking about Water issue said that India was building some water projects on Jehlum, Chenab and Indus in violation of international treaties besides building a huge $ 120 billion water storage capacity which is known as National River Linking Project that will divert about 178 cubic km water from North to South which is also environmental hazard. He said that the project on completion would deprive Pakistan, Bangladesh and China of their legitimate right to the rivers that pass through the Indian soil. He said Pakistan Water Front has been formed to mobilize domestic and international opinion on the rights that Pakistan enjoys through Indus Water Treaty which was when signed in 1960 was guaranteed by the World Bank.
The Front had already shared its roadmap with US Consulate and needs Washingtons help to this regard.
LCCI former President Iftikhar Ali Malik sought US help for improvement of livestock, agriculture yield and to train human resource. He said Pakistan has a lot of sick industrial units and United States could help revival of these sick industrial units. Iftikhar Ali Malik said that the US had given a lot of market access to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and Pakistan was not enjoying the same facilities as far as market access is concerned. He said that Pakistan should be taken an under developed country and must be given concessions and necessary facilitation.
Frmer LCCI President Mohammad Ali Mian said that strategic dialogue between Pakistan and the United States in bringing the two sides further closer and have a positive impact on economy.
He said that due to war on terrorism, Pakistan had suffered a lot therefore Pakistan needs a special US treatment to cope with the challenges being faced by it. He said that the United States should provide maximum facilitation to overcome energy shortage.