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.