HOUSTON: US lawmakers announced the Congressional Pakistan Caucus for the 116th Congress in Houston this weekend, with two co-chair, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat, and Congressman Jim Banks, a Republican.
“This is an important development, which would enable us to work with both Republicans and Democrats to strengthen bilateral relations,” said Pakistan’s Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan, who also attended the event along with prominent members of the Pakistani community in Houston.
“This would also help in building strong people-to-people and parliamentary linkages between our two democracies,” said the ambassador who is visiting Houston — home to one of the largest and most influential Pakistani communities in the United States.
Congresswoman Lee, an old friend of Pakistan on Capitol Hill, reiterated her continued commitment to strengthening of Pakistan-US ties.
“The caucus’s revival for the 116th Congress is an important step forward,” said Ms Lee, the founding co-chair of Pakistan caucus over the years.
“This will help expand the scope of bilateral ties geared to improving lives and livelihoods of people in both countries.”
Congresswoman Lee hoped that the PTI government would also work with the Pakistani community in the US to further strengthen traditional ties between Pakistan and the US.
Congressman Jim Banks noted that a “strong and effective” caucus played an essential role in improving US ties with allied nations and hoped that the Pakistan caucus would also play this role. He also emphasised the need for a better understanding between the lawmakers of the two countries.
Ambassador Khan thanked Congresswoman Lee for her steadfast support for Pakistan over the years and for her “commitment to a stronger partnership with Pakistan”. He also welcomed Jim Banks as the Republican co-chair of the Pakistan Caucus.
The ambassador hoped that the caucus would “help provide depth and breadth to our relationship”. He particularly emphasised the need for enhancing economic and commercial ties that would underwrite durability of Pakistan-US relations.
The 116th Congress is the current meeting of the legislative branch of the US federal government, composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. It convened in Washington on Jan 3, 2019, and will end on Jan 3, 2021. Democrats control the House while Republicans have a slim majority in the Senate.
Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2019