According to sources, Dr Shah in his meeting with the foreign minister stressed that the United States remains committed to a strong, mutually respectful relationship with Pakistan. He noted that United States considers bilateral US civilian assistance to be an important component of that relationship. Dr Shah also believes it can help Pakistan become a more prosperous, stable and democratic state, which serves the national interests of both the United States and Pakistan.
Since the passage of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation in October 2009, the US government has disbursed more than $2.6 billion in civilian assistance, including approximately $830 million in emergency humanitarian assistance. The US civilian assistance funds are spent in five priority sectors: energy, economic growth including agriculture, stabilisation of the border regions, education, and health.
Notably, the people of the United States supported the construction of 210 kilometres of road in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, provided clean drinking water to half of the population of the FATA, funded the world’s largest Fulbright exchange program, and sponsored initiatives promoting private sector growth and civil society development in Pakistan.
The Administrator communicated the United States government’s continued desire to engage with Pakistan, focusing on areas of mutual interest and working through issues with trust, respect, and clarity of purpose.
In his meeting with Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, he discussed the important role economic assistance brings to the bilateral relationship, and how US civilian assistance can create jobs and raise incomes for more Pakistanis. He said that United States has disbursed more than $2.6 billion in assistance to Pakistan since October 2009. Much of this assistance has focused on building Pakistan’s energy sector and increasing economic opportunity for Pakistanis. In the energy sector, the United States has collaborated with the Pakistani government to fund work on the Tarbela Dam and other major energy projects which have expanded Pakistan’s electricity-generation capacity by over 400 megawatts, bringing electricity to over six million Pakistanis. By the end of 2013, US assistance will have added another 900 megawatts to the national grid, providing electricity to over 14 million Pakistanis. On economic growth, the United States has trained nearly 70,000 women entrepreneurs in basic finance.
Shah also emphasised that despite challenges the broader bilateral relationship has faced, civilian assistance has remained steady and USAID looks forward to continuing to work together to support mutual objectives in the future.
Later, both Dr Shah and Hafeez Shaikh also inaugurated Friday a photo exhibition celebrating more than five decades of cooperation between the United States and Pakistan in supporting a more prosperous future for the people of Pakistan. The exhibition will be open at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) through April 17.
“The United States has been working with Pakistan to further its development priorities since 1950s,” said Dr. Shah during the opening of the exhibition. “Ultimately, our work is about helping the people of Pakistan chart their own future.
The United States supports Pakistan’s efforts to ensure that the fruits of development benefit the most vulnerable, that economic growth is as meaningful to a family farmer as it is to a women entrepreneur, and that individuals once tempted by extremism see the value of peace.”
For more than six decades, the US Government has helped Pakistan develop its economy by supporting the development of its water, power, transportation, and communications infrastructure and by facilitating the establishment of Pakistan’s university system. U.S.-supported universities include IBA, LUMS, Jinnah Post-Graduate Medical Center, and many others.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the United States facilitated the Green Revolution in Pakistan, enabling the country to meet its people’s food needs. The United States also funded construction of several major power plants and dams, such as Tarbela and Mangla.
Unites States-sponsored health programs also helped eradicate malaria in the country. To this day, the United States continues to support Pakistan with extensive programs in the education, health care, economic growth, stabilisation, and energy sectors. Guests of the inauguration ceremony included representatives of the Government of Pakistan, the Parliament, civil society, implementing partners, and the media.
Meanwhile, Dr Rajiv Shah, Administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), concluded a two-day visit to Pakistan Friday during which he expressed the strong US commitment to building and improving ties with Pakistan through civilian assistance and development support.
A press release issued by the US Embassy on Friday said that his trip built upon very important discussions that have taken place over the last several weeks, including between Deputy Secretary Nides and Foreign Minister Khar in Islamabad, President Zardari and Ambassador Grossman in Dushanbe and between President Obama and Prime Minister Gilani in Seoul.
Dr Rajiv Shah came to give a message of commitment to the people of Pakistan. Despite last year’s many challenges, US civilian assistance remained steady. USAID looks forward to continuing its relationship with the Pakistani Government and people based on mutual interests and respect. Dr Shah emphasised USAID’s commitment to the people of Pakistan when meeting with private sector leaders and female entrepreneurs in Karachi to discuss and promote economic growth at the small and medium enterprise levels.
In addition, the Administrator launched a national reading program with Syed Qaim Ali Shah, the Chief Minister of Sindh, that will improve literacy for nearly seven million children, provide training to over 90,000 teachers, and support the development of 3.2 million new readers - including 700,000 children in Sindh.