Will cooperate on matters of security, Kashmir issue; US to build knowledge corridor for Pakistan, help in energy sector
Washington—Advisor to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and United States Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday mutually agreed on cooperation in the regional and international security affairs including Kashmir issue and nuclear non- proliferation.
A joint communiqué of the strategic discussion between Sartaj Aziz and John Kerry has been issued. The declaration stated that Pakistan has central role in the reconciliation process.
Sartaj Aziz and John Kerry met on February 29 in Washington to convene the sixth ministerial-level Pakistan-U.S. Strategic Dialogue. The last ministerial-level Strategic Dialogue was held in Islamabad on January 13, 2015. This session built on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s successful visit to Washington in October 2015, with the two sides reiterating their commitment to further strengthening the United States’ and Pakistan’s strong, multifaceted partnership across a range of critical issues, as exemplified by the framework of the Strategic Dialogue.
Both sides expressed their conviction that a robust, long-term bilateral relationship remains critical to regional and international security and prosperity. Both sides agreed that a strong, prosperous, and democratic Pakistan is an essential partner for the United States in advancing these shared goals. As such, the United States and Pakistan have a shared and enduring interest in Pakistan’s continued economic growth and prosperity, increased bilateral trade and investment, education and social development, respect for human rights and rule of law, regional stability, and ongoing collaboration on measures to counter violent extremism and combat terrorism.
The two reaffirmed the importance of the Strategic Dialogue, which provides vision and direction for this bilateral partnership, and reviewed progress made in its six working groups, which represent core areas of joint interest and cooperation, Energy, Security, Strategic Stability, and Nonproliferation, the Defense Consultative Group, Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism, Economics and Finance and, Education, Science, and Technology. They also acknowledged the importance of sustaining cooperation on shared interests through U.S. civilian assistance, in line with the intent of legislation known as the “Kerry-Lugar-Berman” act. Finally, they charged the Working Groups with continuing to meet according to a mutually determined schedule.
Secretary Kerry and Advisor Aziz reaffirmed their shared commitment to expand and deepen bilateral trade, investment and environmental cooperation. Secretary Kerry commended the steps Pakistan has taken to implement an economic reform agenda, which has advanced Pakistan’s macroeconomic stability and improved growth, including the government’s commitment to complete the set of home grown reforms that are being supported by the World Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other multilateral financial institutions. Both sides affirmed that continued reforms will make Pakistan more economically competitive and attractive for foreign investment.
Both sides agreed that the modernization of Pakistan’s economy through better technology, improved business climate, entrepreneurship, enhanced worker rights, and opportunities for women will drive the country’s economic growth.
Secretary Kerry and Advisor Aziz applauded the reinstitution of the Education, Science, and Technology Working Group in June 2015 in Islamabad as an important mechanism through which to facilitate and emphasize the already extensive U.S.-Pakistan cooperation in these vital fields. Under the rubric of a new “U.S.-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor” and Pakistan’s Vision 2025 development plan, both sides committed to both expanding U.S.-Pakistan education cooperation and strengthening Pakistan’s education system, which serve as engines of economic growth and prosperity. Advisor Aziz reiterated Prime Minister Sharif’s commitment to double Pakistan’s education expenditures from two to four percent of gross domestic product by 2018, including by expanding girls’ access to education.
Secretary Kerry noted that the Education, Science and Technology Working Group met this week on the margins of the Strategic Dialogue Ministerial, and lauded the February 2016 Memorandum of Understanding between the Pakistan Higher Education Commission and the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan, in which Pakistan will fund up to 125 additional Pakistani PhD scholars from Pakistan to study in the United States through the Fulbright program over five years.
Advisor Aziz praised the U.S. Merit and Need Based Scholarships Program for Bachelors and Masters level students studying at Pakistani universities, and highlighted Pakistan’s urgent need to expand its faculty in its higher education system in order to provide quality education to its youth by training 10,000 PhDs by 2025 at U.S. universities.
The two sides agreed to explore initiatives to enhance the number of educational opportunities for Pakistani students in the United States at the tertiary level, including increased numbers of PhDs at U.S. institutions. The United States is committed to facilitating the legitimate travel of Pakistani students who want to study at American academic institutions. Both sides resolved to set up a sub-working group for following and monitoring implementation.
Both sides also acknowledged the 23 existing partnerships between U.S. and Pakistani universities, their critical contributions to cultural and intellectual exchange, and the importance of sustaining them long-term. Both sides also noted the June 2015 launching of the U.S.-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies, which established three cutting-edge partnerships in energy, water, and agriculture for academics, policymakers, and industry. The United States agreed to consider additional academic cooperation on Climate Change.
Both sides recognized the importance of civil society to the fundamental health and stability of all democratic societies. They also re-affirmed that International Nongovernmental Organizations (INGOs) and civil society organizations can contribute to Pakistan’s national development goals and complement the work of the government. Secretary Kerry noted that any policy guidelines governing INGOs should be transparent and consistent with international norms. Advisor Aziz reiterated Prime Minister Sharif’s commitment that these guidelines will be reviewed and implemented in consultation with all stakeholders.
The two sides reviewed the progress of their energy cooperation and that of the Energy Working Group since it last met in Islamabad in April, 2015.
Secretary Kerry and Advisor Aziz recognized the new chapter in U.S.-Pakistan energy cooperation, building on substantial cooperation to date that has already helped Pakistan add over 1,750 megawatts to its electric grid, facilitate private investment in the sector, and begin imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The U.S.-Pakistan Clean Energy Partnership, launched by President Obama and Prime Minister Sharif in October 2015, will facilitate new private sector investment in clean energy in Pakistan – particularly in hydroelectric, natural gas, wind, solar, and biomass energy sectors. Through these investments in power generation, transmission, and distribution, the partnership aims to add 3,000 megawatts to Pakistan’s electricity supply by 2020. Both countries agreed to prepare a roadmap for achieving this target in each of the aforementioned areas. Both sides acknowledged the success of the first initiative under the Partnership, the U.S.-Pakistan Clean Energy Conference, hosted in Washington in December 2015, and attended by leading energy firms and financiers.
Pakistan also thanked the United States for its support for facilitating U.S. private sector investment in energy projects through USAID and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). They appreciated OPIC’s work with the Government of Pakistan and private investors to facilitate investment in Pakistan, through the financing of five wind power projects.
The two countries agreed on the need for effective action against all violent extremists, specifically underscoring that no country’s territory should be used to destabilize other countries. The United States expressed appreciation for the sacrifices of Pakistan’s security personnel and civilians in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to countering terrorism including by targeting all terrorists without discrimination. Advisor Aziz affirmed the Government of Pakistan’s resolve to take effective action against United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including al-Qa’ida, the Haqqani Network, and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and its affiliates, as per its international commitments and obligations under United Nations Security Council resolutions and the Financial Action Task Force. The United States and Pakistan committed to continue promoting peace, stability, and transparency in the region and to eliminate the threats posed by violent extremism and terrorism. The two sides looked forward to the upcoming Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism working group meeting where the United States and Pakistan will work together to further bolster the capacity of Pakistan’s judicial and law enforcement authorities.—INP