WASHINGTON: Pakistan and the United States reaffirmed close strategic partnership as top American diplomats and members of Congress attended a reception hosted by Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani to mark Pakistan Day.
U.S. Special Representative Ambassador James Dobbins and Coordinator for U.S Assistance Ambassador Robin Raphael represented the Obama Administration at the gathering of high-profile officials from the Pentagon and several departments of the U.S. government.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who is co-chair of the Pakistan Congressional Caucus, also attended the reception. The gathering also included prominent members of the Pakistani-American community, think tank experts, journalists and writers Ambassador Jilani and Ambassador Dobbins both underlined the importance of the vital cooperative relationship between the two countries.
Welcoming the guests, Ambassador Jilani noted that Pakistan-U.S. relationship is back to full engagement with regular meetings in several areas of cooperation covered under the Strategic Dialogue.
Pakistan, he said, has come a long way since its inception and is today a proud member of the democratic community of nations as a strong, moderate and peace loving country.
He acknowledged the valuable contribution the Pakistani-Americans have made towards strengthening Pakistan-U.S. relations.
They make the strongest bridge between Pakistan and the United States. They are the glue that binds our two countries.
Despite ups and downs, this important and strategically significant relationship has remained strong and resilient, Jilani remarked.
The ambassador referred to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s official visit to Washington at the invitation of President Barack Obama, during which he had a productive meeting at the White House and also had a series of discussions with other top decision makers.
Pakistan and the United States are working closely to promote peace and stability in the wider region, and also cooperating in the fight against extremism and terrorism.
Ambassador Jilani said he and his team of diplomats would devote efforts to augmenting his country’s vital relationship with the United States.
“I am confident that our relationship with the United States will continue to grow in the years to come”.
In his remarks, Ambassador Dobbins said President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have extended warm greetings to Pakistan on the occasion, which celebrates passage of the Lahore Resolution on March 23 1940.
Citing high-level bilateral engagement, Dobbins said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had meetings with President Obama and Secretary Kerry in The Hague, The Netherlands, on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit on Monday.
The bilateral relationship has intensified significantly since the inauguration of Prime Minister Sharif, Dobbins noted, referring to visits by Secretary Kerry to Islamabad and then the Pakistani prime minister’s visit to Washington October last year.
Washington, he said, will host Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for Economic cooperation dialogue in April. The economic dialogue follows strategic partnership ministerial meeting, which was led by National Security and Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz earlier this year.
Pakistan and the United States have extensive relationship across a spectrum of areas, he stated. The United States remains one of the largest trading partners of Pakistan, with more than $5 billion in two-way trade.
The United States also is one of the largest development partners, having funded construction of over 900 km of roads and addition of 1000 MW of electricity to Pakistan’s national system. In the field of education, the U.S. Fulbright scholarship for Pakistan is the largest in the world.
“Pakistan is a critical partner in supporting Afghan stability,” particularly in the year of security and economic transitions in Afghanistan, Ambassador Dobbins said as Kabul heads to April 5 elections and drawdown of U.S. and NATO forces by the end of the current year.
“We particularly appreciate the support Pakistan has given to the process of reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan”, the U.S. envoy added.
Dobbins noted Pakistan’s democratic progress with transfer of power from one elected government to the other last year and said the United States would continue to work towards strengthening democracy in Pakistan.