Statement by Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns on Visiting Pakistan
Deputy Secretary of State
It is a pleasure to visit Pakistan again, at an important moment in our relationship, and in the region. I am glad to have had the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Sharif, Finance Minister Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, Advisor to the Prime Minister for National Security and Foreign Policy Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, and Foreign Secretary Chaudhry.
I stressed in all our discussions that President Obama remains firmly committed to our shared goal of a stable, secure, and prosperous Pakistan. And as Secretary Kerry emphasized during his visit here last August and again at the Strategic Dialogue in Washington in January of this year, he is personally committed to making that goal a reality. After some difficult years, our relationship is on a positive trajectory – a trajectory we hope to not only maintain, but accelerate.
Nowhere is our partnership making more of an impact than in supporting Pakistan’s economic revival. Prime Minister Sharif and Finance Minister Dar have undertaken courageous economic reforms, and concrete steps to expand regional economic linkages, including with India. As Pakistan’s partner, we will do our part to be as supportive as we can. We’ve already made a number of strategic investments that have contributed to Pakistan’s economic growth, from funding the construction and rehabilitation of nearly 900 kilometers of roads to nearly $900 million in energy sector assistance which will add 1400 megawatts to Pakistan’s power grid by the end of 2014. And as Pakistan’s continues to act on its IMF commitments, we will look to do even more. In fact, next week, our two governments will meet in Washington to discuss our joint plan to increase trade and investment over the next five years.
Militancy continues to threaten Pakistan’s revival. Few countries have paid a heavier price than Pakistan in the fight against extremism. We support the Prime Minister’s efforts to reestablish authority over all Pakistani territory in whatever way Pakistan deems appropriate, and especially urge him to sustain pressure on militant groups, deny them a safe-haven, and prevent cross-border attacks.
Countering cross-border militancy and shutting down safe havens is critical not only for Pakistan’s long-term peace and prosperity but also for positive relations between Pakistan and all its neighbors, including Afghanistan. We appreciate Pakistan’s efforts to further Afghan-led reconciliation and we remain hopeful that we will conclude a Bilateral Security Agreement later this year that will enable us to continue to train, advise, and assist Afghan forces and go after the remnants of core al-Qa’ida. This is deeply in our interest and in the interest of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the rest of South and Central Asia.
I also had the opportunity to emphasize our strong commitment to, and support for, a free and responsible press here in Pakistan and around the world.
This is a moment of opportunity for the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. We share a deep stake in continuing to strengthen the foundations of our partnership. And we share a deep commitment to putting that partnership to work to realize our shared vision of a more peaceful and prosperous Pakistan, and a more peaceful and prosperous South Asia.