The United States and Pakistan: A Strong and Multifaceted Relationship
Pakistan’s Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met on February 29 in Washington to convene the sixth ministerial-level Pakistan-U.S. Strategic Dialogue. This session built on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s successful visit to Washington in October 2015, with the two sides reiterating their commitment to further strengthening the United States’ and Pakistan’s partnership across a range of critical issues, as exemplified by the framework of the Strategic Dialogue. Both sides expressed their conviction that a robust, long-term bilateral relationship remains critical to regional and international security and prosperity. The United States and Pakistan have a shared and enduring interest in Pakistan’s continued economic growth and prosperity, increased bilateral trade and investment, education and social development, respect for human rights and rule of law, regional stability, and ongoing collaboration on measures to counter violent extremism and combat terrorism.
They also acknowledged the importance of sustaining cooperation on shared interests through U.S. civilian assistance, in line with the intent of legislation known as the “Kerry-Lugar-Berman” act. Since enactment of that legislation in 2009, the United States has committed $5 billion in civilian assistance to Pakistan and over $1 billion in emergency humanitarian assistance in response to disasters and conflict, including for 2010 flood relief. Security assistance has also strengthened cooperation on key national security interests. Building on KLB, the Ministers committed to continue fostering a strong, multifaceted partnership to cooperatively tackle the global challenges of the 21st century. The United States highlighted areas of cooperation on joint interests, particularly those that have occurred since the 2015 Strategic Dialogue:
Education, Science and Technology
Fulbright Program: The United States invests more funding in the Fulbright Program in Pakistan than in any other single country. Since 2009, the Fulbright Program has funded over 800 Masters and 200 PhD candidates and nearly 100 Senior Scholars from Pakistan. In June 2015, the United States and Pakistan announced a “U.S.-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor” that will foster collaboration to strengthen higher education in Pakistan. In this spirit, on February 23, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan and the U.S. Educational Foundation in Pakistan signed an agreement wherein Pakistan will provide funding for up to 125 Pakistani PhDs to study in the United States through the Fulbright program over five years.
Other People-to-People Exchanges: There are more than 15,000 Pakistani alumni of U.S.-funded English-learning and exchange programs, with many involved in the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network, which has 12 chapters throughout Pakistan. These alumni create important intellectual and business links between U.S. and Pakistani institutions. In a given year, over 1,200 Pakistanis typically come to the United States on U.S.-funded exchange programs.
Science and Technology Agreement: Since 2003, the bilateral U.S.-Pakistan Science and Technology (S&T) Cooperation Agreement has provided a framework to increase cooperation in science, technology, engineering, health, and education. In 2005, USAID, Pakistan’s Ministry of Science and Technology, and the HEC launched the associated S&T Cooperation Program, which has jointly funded nearly $34 million in collaborative research projects to date. In February 2016, the United States and Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding to double joint funding for collaborative research grants under the U.S.-Pakistan S&T Cooperation Agreement, and launch a seventh round of the program. The United States is also helping the HEC and Pakistani universities develop sustainable technology transfer offices and incubators to commercialize research that can contribute to economic growth.
University Partnerships: The United States funds 23 partnerships between Pakistani and U.S. universities to facilitate professional development for faculty, curriculum reform, joint research, and peer-to-peer interaction. In June 2015, USAID, in collaboration with Pakistan’s HEC, launched the U.S.-Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies, which established centers in Pakistan for energy, water, and agriculture/food security through partnerships between four Pakistani and three U.S. universities. The purpose of the centers is to foster long-term research collaboration, industry linkages and innovation, university governance, prepare approximately 1,000 Pakistani graduates for employment, and provide scholarships. In February 2016, the United States and Pakistan held a related conference on these intersecting challenges of water, energy and food security. On the margins of the February 2016 U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, the United States also announced a new partnership between the University of Massachusetts and a consortium of universities in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.
University Governance: In fall 2015, a Community College Administrator Program brought Pakistani higher education specialists to the United States to learn about the U.S. community college system, building on the Community College Initiative Program that enables Pakistani students to study and earn a professional certificate at a U.S. community college. A second cohort will travel to the United States in spring 2016.
Domestic Scholarships: The United States funds the Merit and Needs Based Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to talented but under-resourced Pakistani candidates to attend university in Pakistan, with nearly 40 percent awarded to women. Through several programs, the United States has funded to date over 15,000 total scholarships for underprivileged students to attend university in Pakistan and financed a new dormitory for women at Forman’s Christian College in Lahore.
Basic Education: Under a U.S.-Pakistan Basic Education Initiative, the United States is collaborating with Pakistan to fund reading programs that train teachers and improve the reading skills of 1.9 million primary grade students. Since 2002, the United States and Pakistan have worked together to establish two new degree programs for education professionals. These programs are now graduating Pakistani educators and teachers with the training necessary to provide access to quality basic education. The United States is concurrently funding the construction of state-of-the-art Faculty of Education buildings at 16 universities. USAID has helped rebuild or renovate nearly 1,000 schools since 2009. The Pakistan Reading Project and Sindh Reading Program are working to advance reading and literacy. In February 2016, mobile libraries in Karachi started delivering Urdu and Sindhi reading materials to more than 20,000 students in 200 primary schools across Sindh, including rural areas where traditional library resources are scarce.
Let Girls Learn: During the October 2015 visit by Prime Minister Sharif to Washington, the United States and Pakistan launched the Let Girls Learn initiative in Pakistan. Through Let Girls Learn, the United States, Pakistan, and other partners will help educate and empower more than 200,000 additional adolescent girls across Pakistan. These efforts, which will complement Pakistani domestic efforts to provide opportunities and reduce barriers to girls’ success, will be enhanced through collaboration with other donors and the diaspora community, and through public-private partnerships. The U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council Summer Sisters program, which includes both corporate funding and scholarships provided by ten top U.S. universities, provides underprivileged Pakistani high school girls opportunities to participate in summer educational enrichment and leadership programming in the United States.
English Language Programs: The United States partners with a range of Pakistani institutions in English language teaching and learning. Investing in teachers has a tremendous multiplier effect, directly reaching an average of 450 individuals each year and thousands more from expanded teaching capacity. The English Access Microscholarship Program has provided two years of after-school English language instruction to more than 10,000 Pakistani adolescents from disadvantaged backgrounds since 2007. Over 4,000 first- and second-year students participated in the Access Program in 2015, making Pakistan’s Access program the largest in the world.
Global Connectivity: The United States welcomes Pakistani participation in the Global Connect Initiative, which aims to link an additional 1.5 billion people worldwide to the internet by 2020. Similarly, the United States applauds Pakistan’s “Smart Universities,” a public-private partnership with the U.S. company Cisco Systems, which will provide free Wi-Fi and roaming services at 100 institutes of higher education across Pakistan.
Energy Collaboration to Date: Since 2009, the U.S. Government has helped add 1,750 megawatts (MW) to Pakistan’s electrical grid, benefitting over 19 million Pakistanis. U.S. assistance has funded the construction and rehabilitation of a number of hydropower dams and thermal power plants. U.S. assistance has also helped Pakistan improve governance and management systems, and increase revenue collection – by over $200 million in 2015– as well as provide commercial opportunities for U.S. businesses. Efforts also include Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) debt financing and political risk insurance that support U.S. investments in Pakistan. Additionally, USAID technical assistance played an important role in supporting Pakistan’s access to international liquefied natural gas (LNG) markets in 2015, and ultimately U.S. companies actively participated in the effort. As a result, Pakistan imported over one million tons of LNG in 2015, and expects to triple that amount this year, providing a clean and efficient source of relief from energy shortages.
U.S.-Pakistan Clean Energy Partnership: The U.S.-Pakistan Clean Energy Partnership, launched by President Obama and Prime Minister Sharif in October 2015, will support and enable new private sector investment in clean energy in Pakistan – particularly in hydroelectric, natural gas, wind, solar, and biomass sectors. Through investments in power generation, transmission, distribution, and the regulatory framework, the partnership aims to add 3,000 megawatts to Pakistan’s electricity supply by 2020. In December 2015 a U.S.-Pakistan Clean Energy Business Opportunities Conference in Washington, DC was attended by leading energy firms and financiers. In 2015, OPIC announced financing for transmission and management upgrades to K-Electric Distribution Company in Karachi. This followed OPIC financing for five wind projects in Sindh province from 2013 – 2015. In commercial relations, state-of-the-art General Electric turbines will be used at three new gas-powered generation plants in Pakistan, demonstrating the power of the U.S. private sector to improve Pakistan’s energy sector.
U.S. Department of Energy Initiative: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) aims to foster lasting technical collaboration between Pakistan and DOE’s national labs, including by helping Pakistan design its own integrated energy plan, integrate more renewable energy into the grid, and advance grid modernization and energy efficiency. This work will kick off in April 2016 at an integrated energy planning conference co-sponsored by USAID and the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), home of a university partnership in energy between Arizona State University, NUST, and the University of Engineering and Technology – Peshawar.
Economics and Finance
Bilateral Trade and Investment: The United States and Pakistan will broaden cooperation on the Joint Action Plan, established in 2014, to expand bilateral trade and investment. The United States is already Pakistan’s largest bilateral export market and a significant source of foreign direct investment. In March 2015, the third U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference was headlined by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and connected U.S. and Pakistani businesses. The annual conference was held in Pakistan for the first time, during a broader U.S.-Pakistan Economic Partnership Week. In July 2015, Congress reauthorized the General System of Preferences (GSP) trade program, which provides Pakistan duty-free access to the U.S. market for over 3500 product lines. In 2016 the U.S. and Pakistan will organize the fourth annual U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference, the first to be held in the United States. A January 2016 U.S. Chamber of Commerce trade delegation to Pakistan reflected the great potential benefit for the private sectors of both countries.
Private Sector Financing and Entrepreneurship: To promote private investment, OPIC has more than $879 million in active financing and insurance for projects in Pakistan. The United States has funded numerous projects and activities that have assisted Pakistan’s small and medium enterprises, which are a key catalyst of economic growth. At the U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference in March 2015, Pakistani partner banks committed to provide up to $60 million in financing for businesses under the U.S.-Pakistan Partnership for Access to Credit. Since the partnership started, over 2,200 loans, ranging in size from $1,000 to $2,000, have been made. USAID’s Pakistan Private Investment Initiative (PPII), a set of three privately managed investment funds that are seeded with U.S. government money matched at least one-to-one with privately raised capital, will make over $150 million in financing available for small and medium sized businesses in the coming years. The U.S. Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) initiative provides training, mentorship, and resources, and sponsors a global pitch competition, GIST Tech-I, where a female Pakistani scientist won for the best healthcare startup in 2015. Through its competitions, interactive online webchats, and online mentorship platform, GIST has helped over 6,000 Pakistani science and technology innovators advance and develop their ventures.
Support in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA): The United States is committed to helping Pakistan strengthen governance, expand development, and facilitate the voluntary return of 1.6 million displaced persons to the FATA. During Secretary Kerry’s January 2015 visit to Pakistan, he pledged $250 million to assist in the relief, recovery, and rehabilitation of the region. The United States continues to partner with Pakistan to reconstruct schools, hospitals, and infrastructure to restore communities and assist in the safe return of people to their homes.
Agriculture: To date, U.S. assistance has increased incomes for more than 870,000 farm households; boosted sales by over $151 million; irrigated over 480,000 acres of land; facilitated nearly $59 million in exports of targeted commodities; and helped over 191,000 farmers and others apply improved technologies. In early 2015, Pakistan reinstated the import of live cattle from the United States. Future planned programming will aim to help create over 75,000 new jobs and leverage over $180 million in private sector investment.
Women’s Economic Advancement: Pakistan and the United States collaborate on initiatives to expand women’s economic participation in Pakistan, critical to future growth and in line with a 2014 U.S.-Pakistan Memorandum of Understanding to enable women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship. The U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council, established in 2012 by the State Department and American University (AU), in cooperation with members of the Pakistani-American community, helps advance women’s education, employment and entrepreneurship and in 2015 introduced four corporate members that will support programs or adopt additional women-friendly hiring or procurement policies. With the Council, the United States funded the WECREATE Center in Islamabad, an entrepreneurial community center working with women to start or expand businesses in Pakistan. Since its opening in February 2015, over 8,000 women have participated in trainings, information sessions, business competitions, and exhibitions. The Council also helped initiate a university partnership in women’s entrepreneurship between AU and the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). The USAID Gender Equity Program also promotes women’s access to information, justice, and economic opportunities and helps address and prevent gender-based violence.
Regional Connectivity: To facilitate Pakistan’s regional trade efforts and in support of our shared security and economic objectives, the United States has funded the construction and rehabilitation of nearly 1,100 kilometers of roads, including major trade routes between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The United States supports implementation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and anticipates collaboration with Pakistan on the Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR) Convention. The United States has contributed $15 million to the overall financing for the $1.2 billion Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000), which will transmit 1,300 MW of surplus electricity from Central Asia to Afghanistan and Pakistan, in addition to providing ongoing support for the CASA-1000 Secretariat. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have made substantial progress on the CASA-1000 project within the last year, including Afghanistan and Pakistan signing a power purchase agreement in December 2015.
Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism
Civilian Law Enforcement and Rule of Law: Through training, equipment, and infrastructure assistance, the United States helps Pakistan strengthen civilian law enforcement and the justice sector’s response to serious crime and terrorism. Since 2001 the United States has trained over 17,000 provincial and federal law enforcement personnel (over 1,000 in 2015), including women law enforcement staff. The United States and Pakistan have also worked to strengthen Pakistan’s judiciary, prosecution services, and corrections system. Since 2009, the United States has sponsored exchanges and provided training for over 1,000 Pakistani prosecutors and over 200 judges, and trained over 130 senior corrections officials since 2012. The U.S. counter-narcotics efforts support interdiction, demand reduction, and crop control.
Countering Violent Extremism: The United States works with Pakistani civil society and nongovernmental organizations to support their efforts and increase their capacity to counter violent extremist narratives, and to reduce the number of individuals in Pakistan who accept the legitimacy of narratives that justify the use of violence. Many U.S. programs support the objectives laid out in Pakistan’s twenty-point National Action Plan for combatting terrorism. Programs focus on vulnerable populations and include documentary films, interfaith dialogues, civic education, and madrassa training. More than 11,000 imams and teachers in over 2,600 madrassas have participated in interfaith harmony and peacebuilding programs and training.
Improvised Explosive Devices: In partnership with the United States, Pakistan has taken positive steps over the past two years to increase its controls and interdiction of the illicit supply of materials used to produce improvised explosive devices. These devices have killed and injured many Pakistani security personnel and civilians, and their movement across borders poses a serious threat to regional security. Through U.S. security assistance programs coordinated by the Joint Improvised Threat Defeat Agency, the United States and Pakistan share technical expertise and equipment to improve Pakistan’s ability to detect and defeat these devices.
Security Assistance: The United States and Pakistan enjoy a broad security partnership and work collaboratively to address security threats that both nations face. Through security assistance, the United States has provided Pakistan with critical equipment and training to enhance key counterinsurgency and counterterrorism capabilities employed in operations in the FATA, such as precision strike, air mobility, and countering improvised explosive devices. Assistance has also supported Pakistan’s participation in international maritime coalition operations and enhanced its ability to patrol its coastal waters.
Military Training and Exchanges: The United States provides Pakistan’s military with training to promote regional stability, strengthen its counterterrorism and defense capabilities, enhance professionalism, promote human rights, and strengthen whole of government approaches to security challenges. Since 2009, the United States has provided training to over 2,300 members of the Pakistan military; over 300 Pakistan military students received training in 2015. Pakistan is the largest partner for U.S. International Military Education and Training funding in the world. In addition, the United States and Pakistan conduct military staff exchanges and joint training exercises to enhance coordination and interoperability between U.S. and Pakistani militaries.
Civil Society and Democratic Institutions: The United States works with civil society organizations in Pakistan to strengthen human rights, advance rule of law reforms, combat intolerance, strengthen civil society, enhance media capacity, and safeguard media autonomy. U.S. assistance includes: support for legal aid centers for vulnerable populations; strengthening university journalism programs for media professionals; and enhancing the skills of provincial women parliamentarians. USAID programs have helped register more than 500,000 women with the National Database and Registration Authority, enabled 100 citizen committees with oversight roles, and helped integrate community-based ideas into party platforms, with some becoming law. Through other U.S. programs more than 3,800 people have accessed legal aid centers with approximately 600 individuals actually receiving legal assistance and aid.
Health and the Global Health Security Agenda: The United States and Pakistan cooperate extensively in the health sector to support family welfare and reproductive health. Since 2010, USAID has trained over 31,000 health care workers, who serve over 4.3 million community members throughout Pakistan. Among program beneficiaries assessed in 2014, this has resulted in a 52 percent increase in prenatal care visits and a 20 percent increase in deliveries with a skilled birth attendant. In January 2016, US Ambassador David Hale and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah inaugurated the USAID-funded Jacobabad Institute of Medical Sciences, a facility that will provide modern health services to approximately 1 million people. Pakistan and the United States also remain strongly committed to implementing the multilateral Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) to achieve global capacity to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats. To implement this commitment, Pakistan is developing a mutually-agreed five-year roadmap to achieve the targets of the GHSA. In 2016, in cooperation with the World Health Organization and other partners, the United States and Pakistan have also each agreed to undergo and share an external evaluation of country capacity to achieve GHSA targets and implement the core capacities required by the International Health Regulations.