Thursday June 13, 2024

Economic ties with Pakistan can be improved: US

Blinken announces additional $10 million (Rs2.4 billion) assistance for Pakistan flood victims

By Wajid Ali Syed
September 27, 2022
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at the State Department in Washington, U.S. September 26, 2022. —AFP/ KEVIN LAMARQUE / POOL
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at the State Department in Washington, U.S. September 26, 2022. —AFP/ KEVIN LAMARQUE / POOL 

WASHINGTON: US secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday it was a very difficult time for Pakistan, adding that if the challenges posed by recent floods were nor addressed immediately there would be long-term repercussions.

He stated this at an event marking the 75 years of ties between Pakistan and the US hosted by the State Department. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also spoke at the event. Blinken announced assistance for food security programme for Pakistan, saying that the United States was standing by Pakistan in these difficult times.

He said that economic cooperation between Islamabad and Washington could be improved. Blinken announced additional $10 million (Rs2.4 billion) assistance for Pakistan flood victims. This adds to the more than $56.5 million humanitarian assistance already provided by the US.

Bilawal said that Pakistan wants support from the US for doing justice on issues pertaining to climate change. The foreign minister thanked US for their assistance and invited his US counterpart to visit Pakistan.

Earlier, Bilawal and Blinken met and discussed expanding cooperation in areas of mutual interest, including fostering regional stability and enhancing economic cooperation. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar was also present in the meeting. On his arrival in Washington, Bilawal said the meeting of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and United States President Joe Biden was “icebreaking.”

“Pakistan wants to strengthen its relations with US,” Bilawal said while speaking about the bilateral relations between the two countries and flood situation back at home. He thanked the US president for inviting Pakistan alongside the other countries at the reception, reported Geo News.

Sharing his views about the flood situation in Pakistan, Bilawal said that the purpose of his trip to America was to tell the world about the flood ravages that occurred as a consequence of climate change. He said that he was there to ask for help for the flood victims not as aid but as “justice.” “Those at fault for the flood ravages (in Pakistan) are the rich nations, not Pakistanis,” he said.

The world contributed to this catastrophe therefore the world should help Pakistan in a collective effort, he added. The foreign minister, however, said that they have received a good response as US special representative for the country expressed regret and grief over the flood devastation. He said that not only the Pakistani leaders attending the UNGA session, but also the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has talked about victims of the tragedy Pakistan saw at different forums.

He went on to say that “Pakistan can pay the debts but it would be better if we spend this money on the [rehabilitation] of flood affectees”. “We have proposed that we’ll pay the debts when we become able to do that but that is an initial proposal,” he said.

Bilawal further stated that Pakistan authorities have spoken to “big countries” for help in taking loans on easy terms. Meanwhile, the minister met the Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs at the US Department of State Dilawar Syed and discussed the flood situation and promotion of Pakistan-US trade relations.

Taking to Twitter, Syed said that he expressed solidarity on US’ behalf, with the millions of Pakistanis impacted by devastating floods. He said that the US is leading the international effort to support Pakistan. During the visit, the foreign minister will meet with members of Congress, senators, leading American think tanks and American media organisations.