Tuesday October 04, 2022

US State Department team visits Pakistan for solidarity

“This has been a very productive visit to Pakistan and I’m honored to commemorate the 75th anniversary of US-Pakistan bilateral relations,” says Derek Chollet

By Our Correspondent
September 12, 2022
US State Department official Derek Chollet. File photo
US State Department official Derek Chollet. File photo

ISLAMABAD: Counsellor of the US Department of State Derek Chollet and a delegation of senior officials from the Department of State, Department of Defense, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the White House National Security Council, visited Islamabad and Karachi during September 7-9 and met with senior government officials, members of civil society, and leaders of the private sector entities to commemorate 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and Pakistan, highlighting the importance of bilateral partnership and reaffirming the shared goals.

Counsellor Chollet discussed a wide range of issues, including strengthening trade and investment ties, cooperating to mitigate the impacts of climate crisis, advancing bilateral partnership in health sector, and expanding people-to-people contacts.

 They also conveyed US solidarity with the Pakistani people in addressing humanitarian crisis caused by destructive flooding throughout the country.

Counsellor Chollet serves as a senior policy adviser to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. “This has been a very productive visit to Pakistan and I’m honored to commemorate the 75th anniversary of US-Pakistan bilateral relations,” said the counsellor.

“The United States and Pakistan have a robust partnership based on decades of bilateral cooperation and support, and we look forward to strengthening our relationship in trade, investment, clean energy, health, security, education, and other shared priorities,” he added. The US official also offered condolences on behalf of his government on the devastation caused by widespread flooding in Pakistan and rendered US sympathy and support for the people, who have lost their loved ones, livelihoods, and homes. In the meeting with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Counsellor Chollet discussed $53.1 million in humanitarian assistance provided by the US this year to support the disaster resilience and flood response, with $50.1 million for emergency flood relief and in addition $3 million in programming provided earlier to bolster disaster resilience.

This funding from the United States will provide Pakistan with urgent humanitarian supplies for those most affected, while building resilience against future natural disasters to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis.

In Islamabad, Counsellor Chollet also met with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to discuss strengthening the US-Pakistan bilateral relationship, including increased cooperation on trade and investment, climate, and health sectors. The counsellor highlighted the strong bilateral health partnership between the two countries, particularly the US commitment to donate more than 77 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Pakistan.

In a meeting with Minister of Finance Miftah Ismail, Counsellor Chollet discussed the importance of entrepreneurship and Pakistan’s economic potential, emphasising the promise offered by Pakistan’s youth. At a round-table with civil society representatives, the counsellor heard about their activism in upholding democracy, defending marginalised communities and empowering women.

Meeting with Army Chief General Bajwa, Counsellor Chollet discussed opportunities for the US to support Pakistan’s flood response and US-Pakistan security cooperation. As an example, the counsellor informed Pakistani leadership that the Department of State had formally notified the Congress of a $450 million Foreign Military Sales case for sustaining Pakistan’s F-16 fleet.

The investment would retain interoperability with the US and partner forces in ongoing counterterrorism efforts and in preparation for future contingency operations and signifies enduring US-Pakistan partnership.

While in Karachi, Counsellor Chollet met with the Sindh chief minister to discuss opportunities to expand commercial partnerships and other shared priorities and also discussed the current flooding conditions of the province, including extensive damage and how the US assistance is reaching the people in need.

The counsellor also visited Madrassa Jamia Islamia Clifton in Karachi, which is operating a distribution centre for humanitarian relief, where he discussed how the assistance packages would directly be provided to the people. He later met with a group of NGO representatives and individual volunteers to gauge firsthand understanding of the enormity of the crisis and to learn about ongoing relief efforts.

One of these NGOs was co-founded by a US exchange alumnus, who is working with partners to administer several IDP camps in and around Karachi. The US is proud of the leadership skills and compassion displayed by them. To promote trade and commercial linkages and international maritime sector cooperation, the counsellor also met with general manager of Karachi Port Trust and toured the port. Chollet emphasised the depth of existing commercial ties, noting that the bilateral trade reached nearly $9 billion in 2021, and that the United States is Pakistan’s largest single export market and one of its largest sources of foreign investment, with US direct investment growing by 50 percent in the past year.

In his engagements with Karachi women entrepreneurs and business leaders, he underscored that the US has remained committed to bolstering economic partnership, bilateral trade, and promoting additional US business and investment in Pakistan through a wide range of cutting-edge services, partnerships and programmes.

The US government is dedicated to expanding the full range of trade, security, education, people-to-people contact, clean energy and health-related cooperation to promote a more stable, secure, and prosperous future for both the nations.