$125 million energy aid plan unveiled

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday unveiled a 125-million-dollar programme to improve the country’s inadequate electricity supply. Hillary also announced the first phase of the energy programme, which would help repair power facilities and promote energy efficiency. The projects, she said, have been designed in close collaboration and consultations with Pakistan government.
Under the energy programme, key power stations across the country would be upgraded and repaired, which are currently operating below capacity. She said the US would help install better equipment at Tarbela power station and help repair or replace more than 10,000 tubewells across the country, which would save energy and increase agricultural productivity.
Addressing a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, she said her country wants to open a new chapter in relations for a strong and stable Pakistan. Hillary said Pakistan and the United States are facing common problems and the US wants to help out Pakistan in defeating terrorism and extremism as well as resolving its energy and economic crisis.
The top US diplomat praised the role of Pakistani government, its army and security forces for the commitment and determination to fight the menace of terrorism and extremism. She also informed the media that during her meetings with the Pakistani authorities, they have also agreed to resume strategic dialogue between the two countries, which would be result- oriented.
“The relations between the US and Pakistan are not limited to security alone and we look beyond this. Both the countries have a united and shared vision for the future of our children,” she added. Hillary also sought an end to the anti-America sentiment in Pakistan, saying that Obama Administration wants to reverse the misperceptions prevailing about the US in Pakistan.
Urging the importance of people-to-people contacts between the two countries, she said, “Partnership should not be limited only to the two governments. There should be a strong partnership among the people of the two countries,” she said. She added that Obama Administration intends to extend more support to Pakistan on a wide range of issues, including economic development, energy generation, education and the environmental issues for the betterment of the people of Pakistan. She said there are many areas where both countries can work together such as universities, religious institutions and civil society.
She termed the ongoing war against militants in South Waziristan as crucial for Pakistan, saying that she gives Pakistani government and its military high marks for their intense engagement with the militants.
“Pakistan is in fight with terrorists and this is not war of Pakistan alone. We are also equally partner with the people of this country,” she said. She believed that al Qaeda is helping the militants, which are operating in Pakistan, adding that her country would chase terrorists wherever they are. “These are coward people, who take lives of many innocent people,” she said while condemning the suicide attacks.
“Majority of the militants are not committed ideologically. But they are acting by following their leaders. We are determined to defeat them,” she said. To a question, she said, a stable Afghanistan is in favour of both Pakistan and the United States.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said there are some reservations between Pakistan and the US about each other’s policies, which need to be addressed. He said Pakistan has entered a crucial stage of war against terrorism and the visit of the US Foreign Secretary is very important in this regard.
At present, he said the US wants to shift its focus from assisting individuals to the people of Pakistan and wants to work with the democratic government. “The US wants to be in touch with Pakistani people instead of individuals. US and Pakistan relationship will be strengthened due to Clinton’s visit,” he added.
He informed the media that Pakistan seeks more market access from the US as Pakistan needs more trade than aid to overcome the economic challenges it faces today. “Today we discussed how to reinforce the trust and how to understand sensitivities of each other’s concerns and identify and design our objectives and strategic interests,” Qureshi said.
He said the relations between the two countries are moving in the right direction and the visit of the Secretary State would boost the co-operation between the two important countries. The Foreign Minister underlined the importance of mutual objectives and mutual trust to go forward in future. Qureshi said Pakistan wants to have good relations with the United States for a better future. “We need relations based on mutual respect and trust to pursue our common objectives,” he added.
He said the United States is a democracy and it has supported transition to democracy in Pakistan. He said democracies have to re-draw terms of engagement. “The terrorists want to shake our resolve to peace and stability. But we are committed to defeating the menace of terrorism, extremism and militancy from our soil,” he added.
To a question, the Foreign Minister said that we both have discussed Afghanistan situation as both have interests in peaceful Afghanistan. The minister said the US is in process of reviewing the Afghan policy and Pakistan also wants to give inputs in this regard.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2009