WASHINGTON, July 6: The United States wants to rebuild its relations with Pakistan in all sectors, from Afghanistan to increasing bilateral trade and investment, says the US State Department.
A senior State Department official Patrick Ventrell noted at a briefing in Washington that the United States had already started using the Pakistan route for supplying its troops in Afghanistan.
The two countries agreed on Tuesday to reopen the route Pakistan had closed after the Nov 26 US air raid that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The United States has said sorry to Pakistan over the incident.
“We are pleased that Pakistan has decided to open the Nato supply lines and that the first few containers have moved across the border,” said Mr Ventrell. “It’s a tangible demonstration of Pakistan’s support for a secure, peaceful, and prosperous Afghanistan.”
Responding to a question on restoring the once strong relationship between the two countries, the State Department official said the US was focused on moving forward in its relations with Pakistan on all fronts.
The two countries, he noted, had many shared interests, including peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, increasing bilateral trade and investment, expanding regional trade, and strengthening people-to-people ties between the Pakistani and American nations.
“So we’re really looking to moving forward with Pakistan in our relationship as best as we can,” he said.
Other US officials said that even at the peak of the supply route controversy, the Obama administration never thought of ending its relationship with Pakistan.“We knew that good sense will prevail and this problem will be sorted out,” said one official.
At a separate briefing, Tim Lenderking, director of the Office of Pakistan Affairs at a State Department bureau, observed that the decision to reopen the supply lines brought Islamabad “back into alignment” with the international community’s efforts for Afghanistan.
Addressing the 35th annual meeting of Pakistani-American physicians in Washington, Mr Lenderking described the Nov 26 incident as a “terrible tragedy”. Now that the dispute was over, the two countries could move forward to rebuild their relationship, he added. “We recognise that hugely important works need to be done.”
The US official observed that while the United States and Pakistan had many common interests, “no two countries can have a 100 per cent agreement on everything”.
While rebuilding this relationship, he said, the goal would be to “merge our interests with your interests” but there were certain things that Pakistan will have to do itself.
The United States, he said, could help Pakistan improve its capacity to improve power generation, “but ultimately, you have to find a solution to the energy crisis” which was crippling the Pakistani economy.
Similarly, he added, Pakistan would also have to expand its tax net. He noted that no external support could revive an economy when only two per cent people paid their taxes.
David McCloud, a senior USAID official, told the meeting that the United States was supporting the completion of Gomal Zam and Satpara dams as well as rehabilitation of Muzaffargarh, Guddu, Tarbela and Jamshoro power plants. Together, these efforts will enhance Pakistan’s power generation capacity by up to 1,000MW.