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November 2, 2015

US provided $30b to Pakistan in 14 years: Consul General

Lahore

November 2, 2015

United States of America gave over 30 billion dollars to Pakistan under different heads since 9/11 that includes $13b of CSF (Coalition Support Fund); US and Pakistan are linked together through a close, enduring partnership for decades, since ‘Nineteen Fifties’; most Americans remember the rich and long history of US-Pak ties which are multi-faceted and overwhelmingly positive; Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Washington visit was multi-dimensional and we perceive it as a great success as President Obama and PM Sharif met extensively and the president appreciated- and availed- the chance to hear Sharif; Operation Zarb-e-Azb had a significant and positive impact on peace and security and extended the writ of Pakistani state into areas that, for years, have remained terrorists’ sanctuaries; Punjab government under Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is doing a great job particularly in the area of creating an enabling environment for the success of private sector.
This is the crux of the views expressed by American Consul-General, Lahore, Zachary V Harkenrider during an exclusive interview with The News in which several current issues, developments and perceptions were discussed.
Elaborating the various phases of US-Pak relations, the CG said, “There have been certain ups and downs as it is natural with ties between any two states but the relationship between the US and Pakistan has remained extremely positive and the trend-line of friendship has continued to remain positive especially during the last couple of years.”
And there are many areas in which the US is supporting Pakistan. “The United States’ support is going on in many forms. Over one billion dollars per year are being given to Pakistan since 9/11. Even for the fiscal year 2014, the Washington administration put up a request to Congress for 483 million dollars civilian and 305 million dollars security assistance for Pakistan and the aggregate amount comes out to over 30 billion dollars

that the US gave to Pakistan since 9/11.”
When asked to explain the mechanism of assessing the CSF, the American emissary said that CSF in fact was reimbursement of the expenses incurred in this respect. Pakistan’s GHQ is also in the picture where the request originates and the US embassy maintains a full-fledged office of military assistance because of the significant security relationship between US and Pakistan. “The scale and durability of our relationship can be easily gauged from these facts. The latest request to the Congress equals 300 million dollars.
Here, the CG was asked to explain the rationale behind extending foreign assistance to Pakistan. He replied, “In fact, the foreign assistance provided by US is to pursue our foreign policy goals and they are: a secure, economically prosperous and stable democracy; every dollar we spend is meant to achieve these objectives.”
When asked whether CSF meant funds given by the Coalition Forces to Pakistan, the Consul-General replied that it was in fact US support to the Coalition whose biggest recipient, in turn, was Pakistan.
Talking about Pakistan’s National Action Plan (NAP), Harkenrider said the NAP and Operation Zarb-e-Azb had improved the security situation and deprived the terror groups of space. “We strongly support it and look at it as very impactful.”
Answering a question on Afghanistan situation vis-à-vis Pakistan, the CG said: “Since many years, the situation in Afghanistan has been a major topic of conversation and a major shared interest of both the US and Pakistan. The latter supports Afghan peace and stability and has interest in finding ways and seeing the Afghan society well integrated.”
The American diplomat was asked to enumerate a few areas where the US is providing cooperation or civilian assistance. The reply was, “We are doing our part to contribute towards Pakistan’s success.” In the area of education, US has provided training to about 57,000 Pakistani teachers and has assisted Pakistani universities in setting up five new faculties in advanced areas of knowledge. The objective of USAID in this key area i.e education is to support 56,975 teachers and school administrators in upgrading their skills through short-term courses in the 2009-2018 period. Besides that, the US has helped in the introduction of new advanced curriculum in Punjab and five new faculties of education have been introduced in Punjab University, Bahauddin Zakaria University, Fatima Jinnah Women University Rawalpindi, Education University Lahore and Islamia University Bahawalpur.
Then, over the last five years, USAID has built/renovated 989 schools serving over 300,000 students and trained more than 7,000 new teachers and more than 1300 university and college faculty in new teaching methods and provided more than 1595 scholarships to aspiring Pakistani teachers, 70% going to women. USAID also awarded more than 2500 scholarships to talented but low income and disadvantaged students in addition to the award of 1238 scholarships through the largest Fulbright programme in the world that enables Pakistani students to receive higher education in prestigious US universities while the total number of students receiving scholarships for attending universities comes to 12,000. In all, the US academic community is cooperating with Pakistan through multiple university partnerships.
At this juncture, the CG also mentioned PM Sharif’s daughter Mariam Nawaz’s meeting with America’s first lady, Michelle Obama during which interaction the US financial assistance for girls’ education has been doubled. With the help of White House’s global initiative “Let girls learn”, 200,000 Pakistani girls are going to benefit. The overall financial worth of this global project equals US investment of 90 million dollars.
In the vital most energy sector, the US assistance has added nearly 1700 megawatts to the national grid that is enough for 18.7 million Pakistanis. Over the next five years, energy generation would be boosted up to 3,000MWs through clean, renewable energy projects of private sector with investment to come from American investors. It is trade, not aid, remarked the CG at this stage. One very important assistance provided by the US has helped in reducing the power losses and in the conservation of energy through the installation of automated meters in every grid. And Pakistan’s distribution companies (discos) have been provided the automation system that has helped the discos in saving as much as about 157 million dollars through the conservation of around 124MWs per year.
Focus is on varied power generation and United States’ Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is supporting the efforts of private American companies to establish wind parks in Sindh besides setting up solar power projects.
When asked whether any changes did occur in the mode and degree of relationship following the 9/11 occurrence, the American diplomat said, “Nine/Eleven let the changes in our engagement but we were rightly focused, as victims of terrorism. Now, 14 years after that occurrence we have ensured that this relationship remains multifaceted that should continue fulfilling both parties well in future with equal focus on trade and investment, business ties and cooperation in science, technology and education, people-to-people and cultural exchanges and shared work on mutual development priorities and projects.”
In another important sector of Pakistan’s economy i.e agriculture and livestock, US is cooperating and the cooperation in this sector would be touching the 500 million dollars scale. American cattle of good breed including the Holstein cows are coming to Pakistan for breeding. Cooperation is also being extended in improving the yield and variety of agricultural products including maize and soyabean. Even the Massy Fergusson tractor that is quite popular among Pakistani farmers, is basically American technology.
Answering another question about headlines in the western media that Pakistan was facing many challenges, the CG said, “You can see many success stories in Pakistan: I visited Arfa Karim IT Park where Plan-9 has been initiated. It is a programme to develop new IT companies and I’ve been to Sialkot and Gujranwala, to LUMS Business School and many other spots that are doing well. It gives me confidence in this country’s future. And Punjab government, in particular, is very dynamic as it has created good conditions for development and growth.”
Hardenrider was then asked to give true picture of PM Sharif’s recent-most meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in which the latter is reported-or misreported-to have banged the table with his fist in a resentful way, as claimed by Pakistan’s former Permanent Representative to UN, Munir Akram. The CG told The News categorically that this claim was altogether contrary to actual facts.
Giving his opinion about Pakistani media, the CG said, “News and opinion dominate in Pakistani media that has emerged as a vibrant, democratic press and that is maturing rapidly and is full of variety. I see in it a very encouraging sign.”
To another query about the promotion of anti-American sentiments by certain elements, the American diplomat stated, “If any anti-American sentiments exist in any form, they are not deep even if they may appear broad.”
Answering a question about the range of Lahore Consulate, the CG said that his office covers many areas of Punjab excluding Rawalpindi and the areas north of Jhelum. Those areas are looked after by the US embassy in Pakistan.