U.S. for expanding humanitarian, political, commercial cooperation with Pakistan: Jones

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ISLAMABAD: While respecting Pakistan taking its decisions as an important country in the region, the United States focuses on expanding its humanitarian, political and commercial cooperation with Islamabad amid and post Covid19 pandemic to the mutual benefits of both the peoples and the countries, said the U.S. Charge d’ Affaires to Pakistan Ambassador Paul W. Jones.

Speaking at the Policy Dialogue Series on ‘Pakistan-United States Cooperation amid COVID19’ organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institutes (SDPI) , the ambassador said that the coronavirus has hit hard the U.S. and still it is impacting huge number of people. Pakistan is also facing a grave crisis due to the pandemic. The U.S. wants Pakistan to succeed in its fight against the virus. Setting the scene as moderator Dr. Abid Qayyum Suleri, Executive Director of SDPI, drawn some similarities between the pandemic situation of the U.S and Pakistan. He said that both the countries have devised appropriate strategies and policies to keep a fine balance between economy and health. He raised certain questions for ambassador Jones including: the U.S.-Pakistan cooperation amid coronavirus pandemic, the potential U.S. support to Pakistan’s plea for debt rescheduling and impact of COVID on Afghan peace process.

Responding to these questions, Ambassador Jones said the United States is closely connected to Pakistani leadership since the pandemic broke. President Donald Trump has spoken to Prime Minister Imran Khan and expressed the support for Pakistan’s actions to fight against the pandemic. The ambassador said the U.S. leadership believes that expansion in commercial and political relations between the two countries should emerge stronger amid current situation. He also talked about the issue of debt rescheduling request by Pakistan, and support of USA. Moreover, U.S. also has supported extending loans and grants to Pakistan like IMF US$ 1.4 billion and support by World Bank and other financial institutions

The Ambassador Jones said we have now entered in health partnership with Pakistan on a long-term basis and stepped up cooperation. Pakistan is among top priority countries in terms of the U.S. health partnership on pandemic. Within 48 hours of the request, the USAID has come to support National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and others government agencies. The U.S. has allocated millions of dollars in a new funding for Pakistan for testing of virus in badly hit areas. The U.S. health support also includes technical training and assistance. We are upgrading health emergency centers in provinces in the country, he added. The best part is that Americans are not supporting only through government to government cooperation but the U.S. private sector companies operating in Pakistan are also spending huge sums from their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and humanitarian support funds to provide humanitarian assistance to low income families.

On Afghanistan, the ambassador said that the U.S. provides support to the Afghan refugees and their host communities in Pakistan. We believe that it is in our mutual interest that we reach to a peaceful settlement of Afghanistan issue. We are working in this regard. There are political differences in Afghanistan which needs to be resolved. There is a need that more progress is made on prisoners’ release and reduction of violence there. If there is a successfully negotiated settlement of the issue, we can foresee prosperity and economic development in the region, he added.

Ambassador Jones concluded by saying that our strong relations are important to the people of both countries as coronavirus has opened up a new territory of cooperation. We need to pool in resources of governments, civils society and businesses to extend cooperation between the two peoples and the states. There is a time now to expand our relations in trade and economy sectors.