Remarks After Meeting With Pakistani Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh

Thomas Nides
Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources 
Islamabad, Pakistan
April 4, 2012

I’m pleased to be here, as the Minister said, at this pivotal time between the United States and Pakistan to engage in discussions about the future of this very, very important bilateral relationship. The United States, as I told you in our meeting, remains committed to our bilateral relationship, and we respect the parliamentary review process that is going on currently.

As President Obama said last week when he met Prime Minister Gilani in Seoul, we believe that we can achieve a balanced approach to our relationship with Pakistan as it relates to their sovereignty and interests but also respects U.S. interests.

One interest we share is the growth of our economies to create jobs and prosperity for all of our citizens, as you so articulately pointed out. As I discussed with the Minister, our futures are truly linked and we have significant work to do together.

We continue to cooperate, as you mentioned, on the Kerry-Lugar-Berman funding. Since October of 2009, we have provided, as you know, over $2.6 billion in civilian assistance to Pakistan, including more than $800 million in emergency assistance to respond to the floods and the conflict.

To be honest, I couldn’t be prouder of the significant accomplishments we have achieved together. Because the relationship with Pakistan is so important to both of our countries. For example, we know you have significant energy needs. So, the United States has collaborated with the Pakistani Government to fund work on the Tarbela Dam, and other major energy projects which you and I have discussed have expanded Pakistan’s electricity-generation capacity to over 400 megawatts to bring electricity to over 6 million Pakistanis. By the end of 2013, our goal is to have another 900 megawatts to the national grid to provide electricity to over 10 million Pakistanis, which you have told me over and over again is critically important to the people of Pakistan.

We also continue to sponsor the world’s largest Fulbright program in Pakistan, which brought more than 1,000 Pakistani scholars traveling to the United States since 2005. I couldn’t be prouder, because having your kids and your students coming to the United States, and having our students coming to Pakistan is a way we build long-term trust between our two countries.

I am here because we need to work together to accomplish these goals, and I want to thank you. You’ve become a very good friend not only of the U.S. Government, but of mine personally, and I am glad that we can have honest and frank discussions. You do not shy from expressing your views, which I greatly appreciate.

I look forward to more of these conversations, because the relationship between the United States and Pakistan is vital to our shared security and economic prosperity, so thank you very much.