US envoy Blome sets his agenda in meetings with Punjab bigwigs

Meets with business leaders, religious scholars, top-notch of Punjab caretaker setup | Exchanges views on bilateral cooperation, human rights

LAHORE   -  The United States’ ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome embarked on a three -day visit to Lahore from September 4th to 6th with a multi­faceted agenda of seeking mutual cooperation in various fields and upholding human rights. 

During his stay here in the pro­vincial capital, he met with business leaders, religious scholars and top-notch of the Punjab caretaker set up as he exchanged views on a host of issues ranging from bilateral coop­eration to issues of human rights. His mission encompassed promot­ing trade and economic relations between the United States and Paki­stan, fostering deeper collaboration with the people and government of Punjab, and emphasizing the para­mount importance of safeguarding and upholding human rights and fun­damental freedoms for all citizens.

During his visit to PepsiCo’s, Frito­Lay Snack plant and NetSol Technolo­gies Ltd, Ambassador Blome, accom­panied by Consul General Hawkins, reaffirmed the United States’ un­wavering commitment to bolstering trade, investment, and development, primarily through private-sector en­gagement in Punjab. He underscored the advantages of U.S. trade and in­vestment, spotlighting the significant contributions of American companies in job creation and community sup­port. These endeavors include corpo­rate social responsibility initiatives dedicated to education, healthcare, disaster relief, women’s empower­ment, and skills development. 

Ambassador Blome voiced opti­mism about Pakistan’s considerable economic potential and the ongoing U.S. efforts to facilitate economic re­forms, enhancing competitiveness and readiness to tackle future chal­lenges. These efforts encompass col­laborations aimed at fortifying energy systems, infrastructure enhancement, boosting regional trade capacity, and equipping Pakistanis with the skills needed to thrive in the 21st century.

Ambassador Blome and Consul General Hawkins also engaged with Punjab’s caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi during their visit. The discussions revolved around ex­panding U.S.-Pakistan economic ties, championing the human rights and fundamental freedoms of religious minorities, and reinforcing the princi­ples of democracy and the rule of law.

They also explored opportunities for enhancing bilateral trade and investment, agricultural collabora­tion, and the promotion of coopera­tion for historical building resto­ration. The Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi recalled that an agreement had already been signed to establish a sister-state relationship between Punjab and California to foster trade and economic ties, benefiting from California’s expertise in agriculture, especially seed development. The US Ambassador reaffirmed his com­mitment to expanding economic rela­tions between the United States and Pakistan, as well as fostering coopera­tion in other areas of mutual interest. 

He pledged to further strengthen ongoing collaborations with the Pun­jab government across various sec­tors. The meeting also saw the partic­ipation of US Consul General Kristin Hawkins, Political and Economic Chief Nicholas Katsakis, Political and Economic Officer Douglas Johnston, Political Specialist Sadaf Saad, Pro­vincial Minister of Information Amir Mir, Inspector General Police Dr. Us­man Anwar, DG Lahore Walled City Authority Kamran Lashari, Chief Ex­ecutive Officer of the Central Busi­ness District Authority, and the Sec­retary to the Chief Minister. In their meetings with representatives from various religious groups, the Ambas­sador and Consul General reiterated the United States’ condemnation of recent attacks on Christian places of worship and residences. 

They emphasized the U.S. commit­ment to safeguarding and promoting religious freedom while stressing the overarching importance of pro­tecting and respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms for all individuals. Further, the Ambassador and Consul General held discussions with Punjab’s Inspector General of Police, Usman Anwar. These talks centered on law enforcement coop­eration, adherence to the rule of law, the protection of human rights, and a mutual interest in enhancing the professionalism of law enforcement. This included efforts to facilitate greater access to justice for women and girls and to promote gender rep­resentation within the police force. 

Throughout his visit, Ambassa­dor Blome warmly engaged with the people and the caretaker government of Punjab. He departed from Punjab with deep appreciation for the excep­tional warmth and hospitality extend­ed to him, invigorated to continue fortifying the enduring partnership between the United States and Punjab in the realms of education, the econo­my, healthcare, and the rule of law.

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