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Assist Sec. Speech to US-Pakistan Business Council

Christina Rocca
Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs
Iftar Dinner
December 5, 2001

Good afternoon. I'm deeply grateful to the U.S.-Pakistan Business Council for inviting me to share this bountiful Iftar dinner with you, and for affording me this opportunity to exchange ideas with such a distinguished group on the shared future of the United States and Pakistan.

This is a tremendously exciting time to be working on U.S.-Pakistan relations. After a decade of seemingly inexorable drift away from each other, we are once again working together, closely and effectively, to achieve common goals. I'd like to talk a bit about how we got to this point, about what the United States Government has been doing and plans to maintain the momentum of our cooperation, and about what we believe you could do to help the process.

Last June, we began our efforts to start a broad-based, across the board re-engagement with Pakistan. At that time our relations with Pakistan were ensnared in a web of overlapping sanctions. We had decided to increase our aid to Pakistan, focusing on pilot projects in Sindh and Baluchistan to help rebuild the country's shattered public education system. We were exploring the possibility of reopening a USAID mission in Islamabad. Most importantly, we had begun the process of recommending that the President waive the Glenn, Symington and Pressler Amendment sanctions on Pakistan. And we were preparing a dramatic contraction of the Commerce Department's "Entity List" on dual-use exports.

We were preparing to take these steps, not because the Bush Administration was any less concerned about nuclear proliferation than its predecessor, but because we reached a considered judgment that we were more likely to make progress on the issues that divided us in an atmosphere of cooperation than in a climate of coercion.

Since the tragic events of September 11, our engagement has accelerated dramatically. The U.S. has been engaged in three separate but closely linked efforts: to isolate and dismantle Usama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization and its affiliates; to remove the Taliban regime that harbored al-Qaida and other terrorist groups; and to restore freedom, prosperity and good governance to the people of Afghanistan. We greatly appreciate President Musharraf's bold and courageous decision to throw Pakistan's support firmly behind the coalition's efforts.

The historic achievement of the Bonn conference in determining an Interim Administration for Afghanistan is a tribute to the brilliant diplomacy of Latkdar Brahimi as well as an indication of the yearning for peace and reconciliation coming from Afghanistan. This agreement also could not have occurred without Pakistan's cooperation. The Bonn conference is, of course, just the beginning of the journey to a multi- ethnic, broad-based, gender-inclusive Afghan government. But I can assure you that the United States will continue to provide leadership, encouragement and support for the process, and will continue to count on its friends for help.

Pakistan's support for the coalition has opened up great new vistas for enhanced economic cooperation with the U.S., with Europe, with Japan, and with others -- perhaps even with India and the region. The challenge for us now is to put the past behind us, work together to resolve our remaining differences, and focus our efforts on new thinking, new approaches, new forms of cooperation. Our ultimate goal is to work together with the Government of Pakistan to enable help set the economy back on track so that ordinary Pakistanis are able to choose a comprehensive education to find jobs and choose prosperity over poverty.

In pursuit of these goals we have:

- Waived and suspended sanctions.

- Supported Pakistan in the IMF and other IFI's.

- Transferred to Pakistan $600 million in cash for balance of payments support.

- Decided to reopen a USAID mission in Pakistan.

- Provide a $300 million line of credit for investment promotion as well as an unspecified amount of Export-Import Bank coverage.

- Started a $73 million for border security assistance.

- Working with other Paris Club creditor nations this week to negotiate a highly concessional debt rescheduling program for Pakistan's bilateral debt.

In the long run, of course, trade is much more effective than aid in building prosperity. We understand the importance of enhanced market access for Pakistan, but because of the domestic implications for the U.S., progress on this front has been slower. We look forward to further meetings with Commerce Minister Dawood later this month to discuss ways in which we can help Pakistan's trade posture.

The economic reconstruction of Afghanistan will also carry great benefits for Pakistan. We are working with UNDP, the World Bank and other donor nations to draft a recovery, reconstruction and economic development strategy for Afghanistan. We expect that Pakistan will benefit directly from the reconstruction work, and even more from having a stable and economically viable trading partner to the west.

President Musharraf has shared with me his vision of a nation at peace with itself and with all of its neighbors; a country that has reformed its economy, put its idle youth to work and educated its children. It is a vision made possible by Pakistan's fundamental and courageous change of policy after September 11, and President Musharraf's turn toward the global mainstream of the twenty-first century. A vision also shared by the U.S.

Finally, I would like to conclude by offering a few suggestions on what this Council can do to help support and sustain the momentum of the new U.S.-Pakistan relationship:

- Support Pakistan's decision to join the international coalition against terrorism.

- Get the message out to U.S. investors that Pakistan is open for business.

- Promote the planned visits to Pakistan in early February by the U.S. Ex-Im Bank, OPIC and TDA, and for a follow-on trade mission in the March-April time frame.

- Work with our Embassy in Islamabad and the Pakistan Board of Investment to attract U.S. trade and investment to Pakistan, especially in six key sectors: oil and gas, information technology, agriculture, small and medium enterprises, tourism and infrastructure development.

- Encourage overseas Pakistanis to invest their own money in Pakistan.

Ladies and gentlemen, the years to come promise to be tremendously exciting ones for those of us involved in building bridges between the United States and Pakistan. I look forward to frequent and fruitful contacts between the Council and the State Department in the course of our respective contributions to that great endeavor. Thank you.


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