PESHAWAR: US Consul General Richard H Riley has been in Peshawar since September last and has been keen to reach out to as many as possible, virtually that is, given the state and spread of Omicron, to tell how much the USG is doing to help Pakistan combat the pandemic and provide assistance in other sectors.

Here are excerpts from his interview with Dawn.

Q: The United States has been one of the major contributors in helping Pakistan combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Can you please share with us what assistance, both in terms of vaccines as well as equipment, your government has given to Pakistan?

A: As of February 1, the United States has provided, without any cost to the Pakistani government or people, more than 47 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines. And we are not done. There are millions more free doses coming in the next several months. We work directly with Pakistani officials and agencies to help the vaccines reach every corner of the country. Beyond the vaccines, the US has provided 200 ventilators to the National Disaster and Management Authority. Through USAID, we have also provided more than 1.2 million N95 masks, 96,000 surgical masks, one million rapid Covid-19 test kits, 1,200 pulse oximeters and trained over 10,000 healthcare workers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. All of this, again, paid for by the American people.

Richard H Riley says millions more free jabs due in next few months

Q: Does this include financial assistance too?

A: In addition to the in-kind contributions, the United States has provided more than $69 million in financial and technical support by agencies such as USAID and CDC to help expand laboratory testing, disease monitoring, enhanced patient care, and other priorities identified by Pakistani authorities.

Q: The US government has also been actively providing assistance to the KP government in establishment of police and Frontier Constabulary facilities. Can you please share some details?

A: In December 2014, the United States funded Phase I of the Joint Police Training Centre, which was completed in December 2014 at a cost of $8 million. The project will enable police to increase their training capacity from 540 to 1,700 personnel at one time. In 2017, we signed a letter of agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to complete Phase II of Joint Police Training Centre for KP Police. Our contribution there was $9.2 million. Phase II of the project was completed in June 2021 with a savings of $1.66 million, which was then used to construct additional buildings. These buildings are now 50 per cent built, with an expected completion in October of 2022.

And that is not all, we just hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the launch of a programme where we will work with the KP government and UNDP to open four new agricultural training centres in the province where farmers will learn how to develop sustainable livelihoods without resorting to poppy cultivation.

Q: What has been the USG assistance in the education sector?

A: The United States, through USAID, has supported the rehabilitation and refurbishment of educational infrastructure in KP that includes 992 schools, four faculties of education buildings at various universities, two teacher training colleges and a centre of advanced studies at University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar. USAID has also trained more than 14,000 teachers, awarded 12,985 scholarships to students and professionals, and provided 3.4 million library books and reading material that helped more than one million children.

Additionally, last year over 77,000 students and other people in KP attended our Lincoln Corner educational programmes located at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University and Institute of Management Sciences. Lincoln Corners are US government-funded multi-media resource centres across Pakistan, where visitors can connect, practice their English, and learn about the US in many different ways.

The US Embassy has also supported over 2,000 students of KP in English lessons, 21st century skills, and leadership skills. Hundreds of English teachers in KP received professional development trainings online from top US universities and experts.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2022

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