Pakistan is not being pressed to choose between China and US: Blome

Published June 25, 2023
US Ambassador Donald Blome speaks at an event in Karachi on June 23. — Dawn
US Ambassador Donald Blome speaks at an event in Karachi on June 23. — Dawn

KARACHI: “I want to make it clear that the United States is not pressing Pakistan to choose between [the US and] economic relations with China,” said US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome.

He was speaking at an interactive session on ‘US-Pakistan Relations: Present and Future’ organised by the Pakistan Council on Foreign Relations (PCFR) here on Friday evening. Former chief justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and Ahsan Mukhtar Zubairi were also present.

While on the topic of Pakistan’s economic ties, the ambassador said that trade among many partners is key towards economic prosperity.

“Of course the trade must also be equitable and our message to China is to go forward with fair trade terms and of course Pakistan should demand the same from its economic relationships,” he said.

He said that for the last 20 to 40 years, many policy makers in Washington have viewed Pakistan with the lens of US engagement with Afghanistan.

US ambassador says Washington’s relations with Islamabad can stand on their own

“More recently, some commentators try to frame the US relationship with your country through the prism of China or India or Russia. But I see the situation differently. The US relationship with Pakistan can and should stand on its own,” he said, adding that their engagement with Pakistan remained very strong.

“The United States and Pakistan both need partnerships that advance our unique interests. Looking into Pakistan’s economic future I see potential for this country to be an engine of a larger regional economy, connecting South and Central Asia. An obvious potential element of the future economy is an improved economic relationship with India,” he further said.

Ambassador Blome said that decades of US engagement in Pakistan have prepared them to jointly address the most pressing challenges of the future.

“Climate change is at the top of our shared agenda and the entire world will collectively face the consequences of the climate crisis. Just as our cooperation in the green revolution that improved lives in the 1960s, the growing US-Pakistan green alliance framework is helping us jointly face the consequences of the climate crisis and prepare our societies and economies to adapt to this changing future,” he said.

“One way that we are putting this green alliance into action is our support for Pakistan’s transition to cleaner, more sustainable forms of energy. We are committed to support Pakistan’s forever increasing share of renewable power generation from the current 34 per cent to 60 per cent by 2030. We are working with the government to design an open and transparent competition procurement system that will pull more private investors to the renewable power sector. And at the same time we are working with the power sector to address financing and increase the clean energy footprint in Pakistan,” he said.

Ambassador Blome also spoke about bilateral law enforcement partnerships, which span over four decades and more than a billion dollars invested into projects across Pakistan.

“That includes the construction of 176 border posts for the Frontier Corps and a 25 million dollar investment in the Peshawar Ring Road to increase trade and commercial opportunities and improve access to remote communities. That’s 3,000km of roads that were built in the newly-merged districts as well,” he said.

“We have supported the training of 120,00 Pakistani police officers and our assistance programmes encouraged the recruitment and professional development of female officers, investigators and prosecutors, helping unleash the potential of Pakistani women involved in the criminal justice system,” he said.

He added that on a regional level the US would like to reaffirm its commitment to partner with Pakistan to eliminate terrorism, countering emerging terrorist threats and addressing the roots of instability in this region.

He said that more than 2,000 Pakistani officers have gone on US-funded military education and training programmes and Pakistan is among the top two countries in the world for participation in US military exchanges.

“Our people-to-people ties have taken forward the US-Pakistan relationship for 75 years. Perhaps the most meaningful result of our diplomatic engagement is the network of personal and professional connections made by tens of thousands of Pakistanis who have gone to the US on US-funded academic programmes and exchanges and those Americans who come to study in Pakistan.

“These programmes have built a strong foundation for lasting connections between our countries. The power of people-to-people relationship is evident in the vibrant 39,000-member US alumnae network that is also the largest that we have in the world,” he concluded.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2023

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