Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that he made a strong case for greater Pakistani trade access to the United States and raised all issues of concern facing the country during his extensive discussions with President Barack Obama on bilateral relations. “I fulfilled my duty to put on table issues of concern to Pakistan
I talked about all those issues that pertain to Pakistan’s sovereignty and respect,” he told reporters before flying back to Pakistan after a four-day official visit to Washington. During the wide-ranging White House discussions, the prime minister said they agreed to bolster bilateral relations for the mutual benefit of the two countries.
The prime minister, who had a two-hour meeting with President Obama, said his talks covered issues including economic and energy cooperation, education, extremism issue affecting Pakistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan-India relations and the Kashmir dispute, the drone issue and the matter of jailed Pakistani scientist Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.
While discussing possible U.S. cooperation with Pakistan in overcoming the power crisis, the prime minister invited American entrepreneurs to invest in Pakistan’s energy sector.
“We are trying to enforce law —- launched a well thought-out operation in Karachi because establishment of peace in Karachi will benefit the entire country — it will help stimulate economic growth by bringing investment — we have to address (problems) — we will not let Pakistan remain like this.”
“We will fulfill our obligation — it is doable — we can make Pakistan much better than what it is today so that coming generations may live a better life — we want to make Pakistan a model in South Asia.”
Pakistan, he said, must address problems both through tough decisions and statesmanship.
He cited some tough decisions the government had to take in grappling with energy crisis like payment of circular debt to the tune of Rs. 500 billion and increase in tariff.
“Pakistan has to put its house in order — we have to do that we will fulfill the responsibility entrusted to us by the people of Pakistan.”
He said the U.S. side raised the issue of Dr. Shakil Afridi, Jamaat ud Dawa, cross-border movement, the trial of accused in Indian (Mumbai 2008) killings.
“We should have managed our house better- now the nation is suffering- we have to pull Pakistan out of the difficult phase — I feel with a sound policy, support of the media, civil society and the nation, we will be able to steer Pakistan out of troubles.”
Prime Minister Sharif said the U.S. side has been informed about the policy of holding dialogue with the Taliban as decided with consensus by the All Parties Conference.
“Pakistan has taken a conscious decision,” he said, adding that he has asked the United States to back Pakistan on this approach.
When asked about the U.S. response to Pakistan’s call for trade access to the American market, Prime Minister Sharif said President Obama has promised to approach the issue constructively and work for a positive outcome.