KARACHI: Venue was the Marriott Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom where karachiites converged to celebrate the 70 years of Pak-US relations.
The event, organized by PACC, commenced with the national anthems of Pakistan and USA. Instrumental folk music was presented by maestros. Regional and classical dances enthralled the audience.
Deputy Consul General of USA John Warner introduced the chief guest Consul General of USA Joanne Wagner who stated:
“Khush Amdid! Ok, you just heard about my entire vocabulary in Urdu but I wanted to at least give it a stab, right!
So, 70 years, that’s a good long while, maybe not in the grand sweep of history but in terms of the relationship between Pakistan and the United States. It’s a milestone well worth celebrating.
70 years ago the Quaid-e-Azam brought his profound vision of a peaceful, prosperous, inclusive Pakistan to life. And the United States…was one of the very first to recognize that his dream had become a reality.
We started our partnership on October 20th, 1947 when the United States established formal relationships with Pakistan and opened our Embassy right here in Karachi.
Over the past 70 years, we’ve been through a lot together, speaking personally, as (Deputy Consul General) John (Warner) just mentioned, I had a long relationship with Pakistan in my State Department career working twice on Pakistan from the Washington side. And through that, I became absolutely convinced of Pakistan’s critical importance to the United States.
I found myself returning to work on the US-Pakistan relationship over the years. And when I talked to my colleagues about this, we all agreed that there is something about Pakistan that continually pulls you back. Whether it is the incredible warmth of Pakistan’s people, the dynamism we find right here in the city of Karachi, the entrepreneurial spirit of your community or the astonishing potential of your country. Pakistan makes a place in your heart.
Pakistan does make a place in your heart and frankly, it refuses to leave and I don’t want it to leave. I’m committed to playing my part in building a deeper, stronger, multi-dimensional partnership so that together we can face these very real challenges of the 21st century.
So, recently a Pakistani official lamented in some remarks here in Karachi that for a number of years the United States has abandoned Pakistan. I beg to differ. The United States-Pakistan relationship has endured owing in no small part to the lasting partnerships and friendships we have formed, including with many of you here in the room tonight, and it has been a very important collaboration that we have taken together.
We’ve created joint programs in education, in energy, in health, entrepreneurship, waste management, civilian assistance and so much more. Why? Because the United States recognizes that a strong US-Pakistan partnership pulling in the same direction is vital to regional and global security. Pakistan is an important ally and we recognize that we must work together to face the challenges in South Asia today and beyond.
So I’d like to talk a little bit about the shape of this co-operation. Did you know that the US remains Pakistan’s largest bilateral export market and trade last year reached record heights?
The US is one of Pakistan’s largest donors of foreign assistance, promoting extensive economic, social and scientific growth. US businesses affect the daily lives of so many Pakistanis. Anyone here uses Colgate toothpaste or Pampers or has a Dunkin’ Donuts now and then.
Let’s talk about a few more examples of how our co-operation has benefited both of our countries. Considering what we’re celebrating tonight, I think starting with cultural co-operation is particularly appropriate. A there is perhaps no better, no stronger evidence of our partnership then the multitude of people-to-people exchanges we’ve shared over the years.
About 1,200 Pakistanis have come to the United States on US-funded exchange programs every year. There are more than 25,000 Pakistani alumni of US-funded exchange programs. And many of these are involved in the Pakistani-US alumni networks’ 13 chapters across Pakistan. And these alumni, because they have lived in both the United States and in Pakistan, they act as interpreters and translators of one culture to the other.
And that plays a really crucial role in increasing our understanding of each other. But our cultures, each unique in its own right, now have more and more in common and we are embracing each other’s cultures in new and different ways. In fact in new and delicious ways. For example, Pakistani fashion, made of Pakistani textiles often, is increasingly popular in the US. And of course, we see American style jeans every day in Karachi.
Just Saturday, I met 2 musicians, also exchange alumni. They’re experimenting with new musical forms. They are fusing hard rock Led Zeppelin riffs with sitar expressions. I find that absolutely fascinating and I am really looking forward to hearing more about their work.
And then there’s the food, so many of the Americans at the consulate love Pakistani food. I’m hosting some cooking lessons at my house because we all want to be able to eat Pakistani food once we have to leave here and we’re not alone. In Houston, Texas, for example, the Hyderabad Biryani Restaurant pulls in customers of all ethnicities and backgrounds. And then throughout Karachi, we’ve got KFC, Mc Donald’s, California Pizza and they are making customers very happy here as well.
But sharing our separate cultures, our rich and our diverse histories, our music, our food, and our traditions – all things that we treasure and celebrate – we learn from each other while we’re doing this. And I think that we learn that at the heart of the matter we are more alike than we are different.
I’d like to talk a little bit about collaboration on education. Pakistan is the home of the largest US government-funded Fulbright Program in the world. And the US has funded more than 12 thousand additional scholarships for underprivileged students to attend universities in Pakistan, and by the way, half of those are for women.
We’ve also funded 23 separate partnerships between Pakistani and US universities, funding things such as professional development for faculty or curriculum reform, joint research, pair to pair inclusion. And the lessons we learned from each other through these programs are invaluable and help bring our countries closer together.
Right now the US Pakistan centers for advanced studies in water, which is located right here in Sindh, is pairing with Mehran University and the University of Utah in the United States to promote a graduate degree program focusing on improving water management and I think that’s going to become more and more important as the years go by.
It’s an issue of critical importance for the province and for the country. And today there are 166 students, 46 of them women, who have been working in that field and are attending school through this program. In fact, there’s a group of Pakistani students in Utah right now who are completing the US portion of their studies and are further strengthening their partnership.
There’s more: USAID…they’re building over a hundred schools for thousands of young people with a particular focus on the districts in northern Sindh. 40 of these schools are already completed and they’re modern schools. They are complete with libraries, computer labs, health clinics, multi-purpose rooms to support the arts and community activities. And there are even special features so that children with disabilities can come to school as well.
And we have a $155 million Sindh Basic Education Program in partnership with the Sindh government. That is not only building some of these schools but establishing public-private partnerships that will staff them and educate a new generation of Pakistanis. We’ve also partnered with Pakistani institutions to invest in English language teaching and learning.
And this is a tremendous multiplier. When we teach 450 teachers they, in turn, touch thousands of students and that’s very important. For 11 years our English Access Program has provided 2 years of after-school English language instruction to more than 15,000 Pakistani young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. And that means that these young people have better tools to create better lives for themselves and for Pakistan itself.
The last element I’ll touch on is very close to my heart – the last element in the cultural sphere – and that is cultural preservation. Your heritage, its richness, and its depth are astonishing and I’m so pleased that the US has helped to preserve some of Pakistan’s most important and inspiring treasures.
We’ve completed 20 projects through our Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation and 2 of those projects are right here in Sindh. I hope you’ll have a chance to visit them because frankly, they are spectacular. And because they also reveal and reinforce the wealth of Pakistani history and culture and I’m talking about the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim at Makli and the famous Shri Varun Dev (Mandir) temple at Manora Island. I do hope you get to see those.
Beyond culture, the private sector is and has been a vital link in our continuing relationship opening the kind of new economic opportunities that are so vital to ensuring an economically prosperous Pakistan.
You may be surprised to know that the United States remains Pakistan’s largest bilateral export market. But we’re also a significant source of Foreign Direct Investment. We’ve supported Pakistan’s regional trade efforts and shared security efforts by funding the construction and rehabilitation of about one thousand kilometers of roads, including our major trade routes between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
We support Pakistan’s small and medium enterprises – catalysts of economic growth – through the US Global Innovation through Science and Technology (or GIST) initiative. GIST provides training and resources. And we sponsor a global competition which a Pakistani scientist won recently for the best healthcare startup. Her project is called doc-HERS not doctors but doc-HERS. It’s a novel healthcare marketplace that connects female doctors to millions of underserved patients in real-time while leveraging technologies, so it’s a very innovative program.
I’ll add a special message tonight and say that the US is absolutely committed to creating opportunities that allow and encourage women to thrive.
Surprise finalé was a performance by the Consul General Joanne Wagner, who was accompanied by Cultural Attaché Susan Ross and CLO Jennifer Mauldin.
A relevant piece published earlier:
DG ISPR briefs British parliamentarians
LONDON: Director General Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Asif Ghafoor here on Tuesday visited British Parliament and briefed the parliamentarians about the Pakistan Army’s role in the war against terrorism.
He visited the British Parliament at the invitation of the parliamentarians of House of Commons and House of Lords, a statement of Pakistan High Commission said.
The parliamentarians highly appreciated the role of Pakistan in the war against terrorism. Lord Nazir Ahmed and Baroness Syeeda Warsi were also present on the occasion.
Pakistan to bridge the gap of $12b: Asad Umer
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance Asad Umer on Tuesday expressed the hope that the country would bridge the gap of 12 billion US dollars through loans being sought from various foreign institutions and banks.
Pakistan needed to fill this and for this, the present government would seek the loan facility from International Monetary Funds, World Bank, and Asian Development Bank, etc., he stated while talking to a private news channel.
Taxes had been levied on luxuries items including cars, he said, adding focus would be given to expedite exports by improving industrial sectors.
To a question about power and gas pilferage, he said through modern technology, we would control such heinous activities.
To another question regarding the current account deficit, he said the previous governments were responsible for damaging the economy and other institutions.
The PTI government had put the 100-day plan on the website, he said adding that we were trying to stabilize the economy of the country.
Replying to a question about the housing project, he said it was a difficult task but we would implement this gigantic project for benefiting the low-income group.
He said the government would provide shelters to low-income people and the private sector would invest to achieve the target of 50,00,000 houses.
Asad Umer said the government would make legislation and formulate the policy for the housing project. Good governance, he said, would address the challenges being faced by the country. People had expressed full confidence in the honest leadership of PTI chief Imran Khan, he added.
US announces sanctions on key Iranian paramilitary force
WASHINGTON: The US Treasury Department today slapped sanctions on an Iranian paramilitary group along with a network of businesses that were providing it financing, as part of Washington’s campaign of maximum economic pressure against Tehran.
In announcing the sanctions, Treasury said a network of more than 20 businesses known as the Bonyad Taavon Basij was financing the Basij Resistance Force, a component of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
“The international community must understand that business entanglements with the Bonyad Taavon Basij network and IRGC front companies have real-world humanitarian consequences,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The Basij, a paramilitary force formed soon after the 1979 revolution, is one of the Iranian regime’s primary enforcers of internal security with branches in every province and city of Iran, according to the US Treasury.
The Bonyad Taavon Basij is said to provide the Basij militia social welfare services, including housing and financial support, and manages economic activities by funding small companies. “Bonyad Taavon Basij has expanded its reach into Iran’s economy by establishing several investment firms through its financial and investment offshoot Mehr Eqtesad Bank,” the Treasury statement said.
Among the other companies singled out was Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company (ITMC), the largest tractor manufacturer in the Middle East and North Africa which predates the Iranian revolution, that generates millions of dollars in profit for the investment firms that represent the Basij. Also targeted was Iran’s Zinc Mines Development Company, described as the country’s “preeminent, multibillion-dollar zinc and lead mining and processing holding company.”