us ambassador to pakistan, richard olson
US Ambassador in Pakistan Richard Olson. – Photo by AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The US ambassador in Pakistan on Wednesday assured that his country will not repeat mistakes it made in 1989 and will not disengage from the region in 2014—expected withdrawal year for the US and Nato forces from Afghanistan.

Ambassador Richard Olson was delivering a major speech at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad on “the United States’ relationship with Pakistan and Afghanistan, now and beyond the 2014 security transition.”

In his speech, Ambassador Olson said, “even as we work with Pakistan to ensure that 2014 is not a repeat of 1989, we are not myopically focused on December 2014.  Instead, we continue to look over the horizon.  We see a Pakistan and a region that will continue to grow in importance.”

“2014 is not 1989,” he said adding, “The United States recognizes the mistakes of the past, and will not disengage from the region.”

Commenting on mutual cooperation between the two countries, the ambassador said the US was committed to a cooperative and long-term partnership with Pakistan, broader than any one issue and centered on areas of mutual interests.

The US relationship with Pakistan is not shaped solely by US’s commitments and responsibilities in Afghanistan, he added.

Olson said the future of Afghanistan is important to the United States, as it is to Pakistan.  “In fact, this is a source of considerable convergence between Washington and Islamabad.  But it is too simplistic to reduce our nations’ strategic partnership to this narrow construct,” he added.

The ambassador called for the United States and Pakistan to work together with purpose to facilitate a negotiated peace in Afghanistan. “For the sake of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the region, Pakistan’s full support to an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process is needed now,” he said.

Commenting on the upcoming general elections in the country, the US ambassador said it is a historic and defining moment for Pakistan, when, for the first time, one civilian government transfers power to the next in accordance with the constitution, and reflecting the will of the Pakistani people.

“We do not support any one political party, or any one candidate.  But we will continue to help strengthen the institutions that work to ensure a free and fair process that gives a voice to all Pakistanis,” he said.

Moreover, Ambassador Olson also underscored that US assistance to Pakistan in energy, economic development, education, and health is a tangible sign of the United States’ long-term investment in Pakistan’s future.