Washington DC, December 09, 2022 (PPI-OT):
Mr. Brian Finlay, President Stimson Center
Ms. Elizabeth Threlkeld, Director, South Asia Program,
And all participants,
Thank you so much for inviting me to this discussion and precisely identifying themes and subthemes on which we will interact.
The foundations of the relations between Pakistan and the United States were laid in good faith and friendship through the exchange of messages between President Truman and Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, immediately after the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Today, the relationship remains strong reflecting the aspirations and shared values of the people and leadership of the two countries.
The US helped Pakistan in its formative years to develop its military capabilities and prepare a blueprint for economic development. That sealed the bond between our two nations as we entered into alliances to uphold freedom, peace, security and prosperity for all. In this journey, both nations have given countless sacrifices in blood and treasure.
At the height of our alliance, doubters would say that our relationship was at best fractional and unequal, with broadly non-congruent security interests. What they failed to gauge was its longevity and resilience. While other nations drifted in and out, Pakistan has remained a partner of the United States in war and peace, despite differences between the two countries from time to time.
In a sense, all interstate relations are transactional. This trope, therefore, would not capture the evolution and full range of Pak-US relations. The year 2022 has been a year of opportunity and decreasing tension in Pak-US relations. We started the year with uncertainty, then we saw a thaw and now we have entered into a phase of engagement.
After the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan last year, there was bitterness. Pakistan was criticized in the US media at a time it was helping the United States with massive evacuations from Afghanistan. That trend has receded giving way to a more sober evaluation of Pakistan-US relations.
We are relevant to each other even when we are not in a war. We are recalibrating our relations to incorporate both security and non-security dimensions. But we will build a realistic and practical relationship that is less susceptible to dissonance in expectations.
The US has de-hyphenated its relationship with Pakistan from any other country’s prism or perspective–be it Afghanistan, India or even China. These have been warped frameworks misconstrued on both sides.
The relationship now stands on its own–singular, broad-based but integrated into the regional and global spheres. The US has publicly underscored that it has always viewed a prosperous and democratic Pakistan critical to its interests. We too have reciprocated in full measure.
Pakistan and the US, as longstanding strategic allies, would continue to advance their shared agenda to counter terrorism, foster regional stability and strengthen defence ties. The resurgence of ISIS and dastardly terrorist attacks by TTP against Pakistan require strong security cooperation between Pakistan and the United States and removal of any barriers that impede it.
We will expand our partnerships in the economic realm; promote trade, investment and businesses; and enhance cooperation in the energy, health, education, and climate change and agriculture sectors. The relationship must have economic sinews and currency. The political climate is ripe for that kind of cooperation in 2023.
The geopolitical situation in 2023 will continue to be complex, without radically undermining existing interdependencies. The developments in and around Ukraine have, however, increased ambiguities and disrupted the familiar fault lines in Europe.
We hope all nations would use strategic pragmatism to resolve problems and promote geo-economics connectivity to spur shared prosperity. Bloc politics in this day and age will imperil world peace. Above all, we must continue our quest for international rule of law and justice. We hope that nations would rather cooperate and compete, and avert conflicts, to fulfil their obligations under the UN Charter.
We attach highest importance to our relations with the United States. Our ties with China will remain on a steady path. We applaud the statesmanship demonstrated by the US and China to engage each other whenever tensions rise. This was manifested recently when President Biden and President Xi met in Bali. Pakistan would not like to choose between the two countries but be a bridge, if feasible.
The growing trade between China and India, its current volume being more than $115 billion, rules out a war between them. Economic co-dependency between them seems to be the norm. Absence of any dialogue or communication between India and Pakistan is hazardous. India should reverse its policies and practices in the IIOJK. The full spectrum of the outstanding issues between Pakistan and India should be put on the table for dialogue and resolution.
While Pakistan has contributed less than 0.4 percent to global carbon footprint, it is the eighth most vulnerable country to climate disasters. This year climate-induced floods inundated one third of our country which affected 33 million people, displaced nearly 8 million and spawned myriad food, health, education and housing crises. Infrastructure was crippled. These epic floods came after forest fires, glacial melts, heatwaves and torrential rains and destroyed crops, livestock and biodiversity.
We thank the United States for its generous humanitarian assistance of $97 million for flood relief; and deeply appreciate its assurances that it will be a partner in our climate-resilient, inclusive and people-centered post flood recovery and rehabilitation strategy.
The floods would cast a shadow in 2023 but they have also opened up an opportunity for creating a better future for Pakistan. The Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), prepared jointly by Pakistan, United Nations agencies and multilateral development banks, has calculated loss and damage of $30.1 billion. We need estimated $16.3 billion for rehabilitation and reconstruction in a resilient way. It is, however, a cascading catastrophe and a long haul. There would be more costs.
We would leverage the United States’ convening power to mobilize support for Pakistan in the Donors’ Conference next month in Geneva.
The agreement on the Loss and Damage Fund at COP27, under the leadership of Pakistan as Chairman of Group of 77, is a positive development but the Fund’s chests should not remain empty if we want to save the planet from annihilation.
Beyond floods, there’s another story about Pakistan–of an emerging economy. With a population of 220 million, some 80 to 100 million in the middle class and 130 million below the age of 30, it is a young nation with an immense potential. Hundreds of thousands of students graduate every year from universities, R and D organizations, and centers of excellence, and science and technology institutes. These include tens of thousands of tech professionals.
We are investing in Science and Technology-led growth. Pakistan’s economy is being digitized speedily, as global venture capital and private equity firms, most of them from the United States, are unlocking new business ecosystems in Pakistan. Our tech startups have done well in the past two years and are poised to grow exponentially. Pakistan is developing as an alternative economic hub extending to East, Central and West Asia.
Nearly one million Pakistani-Americans are playing a pivotal role in cementing our bilateral ties.
There is sufficient content on both sides to dispel misperceptions about each other. Revision of the US travel advisory, relaxation of our visa regimes and people to people exchanges will promote deeper understanding between our nations.
Eighty American enterprises in Pakistan, comprising conglomerates and front and back offices, are expanding their businesses in and around Pakistan. The US is the single largest export market for Pakistan. Last year our exports increased from $7 billion to $9 billion. The US FDI needs to climb back to its previous peaks when the US remained top foreign investor in Pakistan for decades.
These are good foundations to scale up our ties in 2023. We would consolidate the processes we have advanced in 2022. We look forward to an early ministerial meeting of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, further cooperation in the health sector especially in the field of disease surveillance, development of weather-resistant seeds under the banner of the Green Alliance launched by the United States and joint ventures for renewables and green technologies.
The number of Pakistani students enrolling in US universities and colleges has increased by 17% to 8,000. Still, it’s very small compared to the number of students from other countries of the region. We would work to have it increased especially in STEM subjects.
Pakistan is a nation with destiny. Given its economic coordinates and cohorts, the World Bank and Goldman Sachs, among others, see Pakistan as one of top global economies by 2047, when it will turn 100. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has in fact projected Pakistan to become the 7th largest economy by 2030.
The Goldman Sachs has in its latest research report showed Pakistan economy as the 6th largest in 2075. We are planning for that future, as we streamline our taxation system, improve ease of doing business, harness our regulatory regimes to attract investments and empower our citizens, especially women. We are working for political stability and constitutional democracy.
In this journey, we will have friends all over the world from Europe to the Middle East to Africa to Asia to the Americas. But the United States will have a special place in the realization of this dream, which will benefit our two countries. Given the packed regional and global agenda, we need to increase the bandwidth on both sides to give the right rhythm and frequency to our relationship.
I thank you.
For more information, contact:
Embassy of Pakistan, Washington D.C
3517 International Court NW
Washington, DC 20008.
Consular Section PH: 202-349-3177
Consular Section Email: email@example.com