Opening Remarks at U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi
Foreign Ministry, Islamabad, Pakistan
July 19, 2010

FOREIGN MINISTER QURESHI: Secretary Clinton, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. It is a pleasure to welcome Secretary Clinton to Pakistan once again. We are delighted to have you back in our midst to carry forward the wide-ranging agenda that we have been pursuing together in recent months. I also extend a warm welcome to other distinguished members of the U.S. delegation.


Those of us who traveled to Washington last March for the first round of this upgraded Strategic Dialogue remain overwhelmed by the exceptional warmth and the gracious hospitality accorded to us. We hope we can reciprocate in some small measure while you are in Pakistan. We are joined here by many distinguished colleagues from various ministries and institutions in Pakistan. I thank them for their presence and for their vital contributions to this process.


Madam Secretary, today is an important day in the history of Pakistan-U.S. relations, which entered a new phase with the commencement of the Strategic Dialogue at the level of the Secretary of State and foreign minister. With this enterprise, we committed to work together for building a stable, broad-based, and enduring partnership between Pakistan and the United States on the basis of shared democratic values, mutual trust, and mutual respect.


We concurred that such a partnership is in the best interest of the peoples of Pakistan and the United States. And it’s critical for peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and beyond. We identified a whole range of areas for intensified collaboration with the express intent of further deepening and broadening the multifaceted ties between our two countries. I have no hesitation in stating that this would not have been possible without your strong, personal belief, Madam Secretary, in the importance and vast potential of the Pakistan-U.S. partnership.


The time and energy that you have invested in it has made this day possible. The consistent progress that we have been able to make thus far owes largely to your qualitative engagement with this process. On behalf of the government and people of Pakistan and on my own behalf, I take this opportunity to sincerely commend your vision, your commitment, and your leadership. And I assure you that we, on our part, remain equally committed to making this enterprise a resounding success.


Madam Secretary, we agreed at Washington that our sectoral dialogue process would encompass economy and trade, energy, defense, security, strategic stability and nonproliferation, law enforcement and counterterrorism, science and technology, education, agriculture, water, health and communications, and public diplomacy. It is gratifying that the first of these sectoral track meetings have since taken place.


City officials and experts on both sides have had preliminary discussions on areas of mutual collaboration and ways and means of achieving agreed outcomes. They have worked hard and done a fine job. I’m encouraged by the positive interaction in this sectoral dialogue and a clear sense of direction discernable in each of the identified areas. In our work during the day, we will have the opportunity to review in more detail the ground covered so far and to exchange views on the next steps.


I just wish to emphasize at this point that all these sectors are of fundamental importance to the day-to-day lives of the people of Pakistan. And they are, therefore, watching this dialogue with great expectations. You had rightly underlined in Washington last March that we cannot be satisfied with talking alone. As you stress the importance of translating our partnership into a lasting progress for the millions who live in cities and villages far from the halls of power and whose lives will be shaped by our actions, I could not agree more.


Indeed, the betterment of the lives of the people has been and must remain the primary motivation for all our efforts. Building a people-centered relationship must remain our foremost priority. It is in this spirit that we have been engaging in the sectoral discussion. We hope that Pakistan Government’s endeavors in these crucial sectors will be meaningfully reinforced through this process. We hope that substantive progress will be made on critical matters such as providing enhanced market access, strengthening Pakistan’s counterterrorism capacity, and allowing nondiscriminatory access to energy resources and advanced technology. We hope we will be able to achieve overall results that help expand economic opportunities in Pakistan and show real benefits of this relationship to our people. Nothing is more important than such vindication in the eyes of the people.


Madam Secretary, this is a transformational phase in our bilateral relations. Together, Pakistan and the United States are working to transform this longstanding cooperative relationship into a strong, comprehensive, and sustainable partnership of mutual benefit. The vision of this partnership is shaped by the mutual desire of our leaders, President Zardari and President Obama, for a richer relationship at the government-to-government, business-to-business, and people-to-people levels. This vision is rooted in the shared history of friendship and alliance between Pakistan and the United States over the past 60 years, which has withstood the test of times and has remarkably endured.


This vision is driven by our convergent interests in the present day, including fighting between menace of extremism and terrorism, stabilizing and reconstructing Afghanistan, sustaining dialogue with India, and finding a just solution of the Kashmir dispute linking the economic potential of South and Central Asia, curbing nuclear proliferation, and advancing progress and prosperity in the region and beyond. Essentially, in today’s globalized environment, an interconnectedness building such a partnership between our two nations is essential to building of a safer world and carving a common future of hope and optimism.


Madam Secretary, this is a period of profound transformation in Pakistan as well. We have political transformation underway with deepening democracy, increasingly empowered parliament, an active opposition, an independent judiciary, a free media, and a vibrant civil society. We have economic transformation underway with notable growth rate despite continuing global recession, growing inflow of remittances, tighter fiscal discipline, and expanding agricultural, commercial, and industrial base.


We have societal transformation underway with a rising demographic profile, rapid urbanization, increasing women empowerment, and a growing culture of human rights. We have ideological transformation underway with the emergence of a strong, national consensus against the dark forces propagating falsehoods in the name of our noble faith and perpetrating senseless crimes against our innocent citizens and the security personnel. Obviously, such far-reaching transformation brings in its wakes multiple challenges. But we are determined to deal with these challenges effectively and make sure that this transformation continues to forge ahead and concludes successfully.


We must do so because this transformation is consistent with Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan as a democratic, modern, progressive, and Islamic state. Because it is in line with our leader Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s conception of Pakistani society, because it helps us fortify our efforts in pursuit of our two core national priorities – peace and development. And finally, because it makes Pakistan a natural partner, indeed an indispensible ally of the international community. I cannot stress enough that the world has a vital stake in the success of our efforts.


Madam Secretary, in Washington, while launching this elevated Strategic Dialogue on March the 24th, you had heralded the dawn of a new day in our old and tested relationship. I’m happy to affirm that we are steadily moving forward in this new phase. As we go further, it will be crucial for us to remain sensitive and responsive to each other’s concerns and interests, make sure that our dialogue process is result-oriented, ensure that it makes a tangible contribution to peace and prosperity in the region, and continue to elicit stronger public support in both countries for the expanded partnership. It will be equally essential to build a robust architecture of strategic dialogue that helps advance our mutually shared goals at every level and at every juncture.


We must also develop and follow a roadmap for future with specific goals and agreed timelines. We must be able to showcase the progress made in building a truly strategic partnership which President Obama – when President Obama visits the region later this year. It is with these opening points that we will go into deeper deliberations and work for productive results.


Before I conclude, allow me to once again express how pleased we are to have you, Secretary Clinton, visiting Pakistan and for chairing this session. It is now my great privilege to invite Secretary Clinton to make her opening remarks. Thank you.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Minister Qureshi, for that warm welcome and your strong words of support for the partnership between Pakistan and the United States, and it is a partnership that you have done so much to forge. I am delighted to be here and to be part of this continuing Strategic Dialogue.


I want to begin my congratulating the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan for successfully concluding negotiations last night on the Afghanistan-Pakistan transit trade agreement. This is the most significant, concrete achievement between these two neighbors in nearly 50 years. I believe it will go a long way towards strengthening regional economic ties, creating jobs in both countries, and promoting sustainable economic development. And I applaud the Government of Pakistan for demonstrating your commitment to bilateral cooperation and building trust and closer ties between your country and your neighbor, Afghanistan.


My colleagues and I are delighted to join Minister Qureshi, other ministers, officials of the foreign ministry and other agencies of the Pakistan Government for this second meeting of the elevated and expanded U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue. We bring with us the best wishes of President Obama and other members of the Administration, members of Congress, and the American people who recognize the importance of this relationship in building a secure, prosperous, and peaceful future for both our nations.


On a personal note, let me say to you and to all the Pakistani people how good it is to be back in Pakistan. This is my sixth visit and I always look forward to coming here not just because of the work that our governments are able to do together, but because of the relationships and friendships I’ve made and the conversations I’ve been privileged to have with so many Pakistani citizens.


I know that the past few weeks have been trying times for the people of Pakistan. The attack on the shrine of Data Darbar, a place that is sacred to many Pakistanis, as well as Muslims and non-Muslims worldwide, and so many attacks that continue to target the innocent – men, women and children – who are praying, who are shopping, who are working, who are living their lives, I convey our deepest condolences to the families who have lost loved ones and all those who are impacted by violence. Acts like these are meant to sow divisions between people. But I have seen how they have brought us together in affirmation of our shared values, our common humanity, and our mutual aspirations.


Of course, there are differences between our countries and our peoples, and we need to address them candidly. But every time I visit Pakistan, I become more convinced that our differences, although important, are small compared with all that connects us and there is so much we can accomplish together as partners joined in common cause. That is the promise and the reality represented by the Strategic Dialogue. This dialogue, as the minister has said, is an achievement in and of itself. Not long ago, meetings like this, at this level with this breadth of participation, were rare. Now, I’m happy to say they are becoming routine.


Since my visit here last October, when Foreign Minister Qureshi and I agreed to restart this dialogue and we both agreed to serve as its chairs, officials from our governments have come together multiple times. We convened in Washington in March to create 13 working groups each focused on a critical issue – promoting trade and economic growth, strengthening energy supplies for the Pakistani people, improving access to healthcare and education and so much else.


In recent months, every working group has met here in Pakistan to engage in high-level, substantive discussions about how to move forward. Together, we have identified roadblocks, devised strategies, and begun to put ideas into action. And the work has gone so well that we moved up the date of this review by several months.


I want to echo my friend, Foreign Minister Qureshi, in praising the efforts of both of our teams. This kind of results-oriented engagement is exactly what he and I hoped this dialogue would produce. But while we can be pleased, we cannot be satisfied. There is still so much work to be done as we unlock the full potential of the dialogue and translate our combined expertise and resources into lasting progress for the betterment of the people of Pakistan.


Let me briefly describe some of the highlights of our work so far and some plans for what comes next. One of our objectives when we launched this dialogue was to deepen our existing partnerships in key areas like security, while starting new partnerships on urgent issues like water. We know that there is a perception held by too many Pakistanis that America’s commitment to them begins and ends with security. But in fact, our partnership with Pakistan goes far beyond security. It is economic, political, educational, cultural, historical, rooted in family ties. That this misperception has persisted for so long tells us we have not done a good enough job of connecting our partnership with concrete improvements in the lives of Pakistanis. And with this dialogue, we are working very hard to change that perception and to deliver results that truly have the concrete effects we are seeking.


Now, of course, security is a critical element of our partnership. Pakistan plays a central role in promoting security throughout the region. The Pakistani people stand on the front lines of a battle with violent extremists who target shrines, mosques, markets, government buildings, killing and injuring hundreds and hundreds of innocent people. The United States condemns this brutality and we stand in strong support of the democratic Government of Pakistan as it works to stop these groups once and for all.


But security is just one piece of this vital partnership. We share with Pakistan a vision of a future in which all people can live safe, healthy, and productive lives; contribute to their communities; and make the most of their own God-given potential. This future demands a comprehensive human security, a security based on the day-to-day essentials like jobs, schools, clinics, food, water, fuel, equal access to justice; strong, accountable public institutions. These are the building blocks of a durable, thriving society, and they are the aspirations not only of the Strategic Dialogue but of the people of Pakistan.


So the United States does not want only a dialogue between the governments, we want a dialogue between peoples. During my visit here last October, I had conversations with students, women, business leaders, tribal elders, and so many others, to learn more about their concerns and their priorities. And I heard over and over again about several pressing needs – jobs, clean water, healthcare, electricity. I also heard the concerns that these conversations would not have an impact on the work we were doing. But in fact, both of our governments, as the minister has said, are committed to following the lead of the people.


I returned to our Pakistani partners and my colleagues in Washington and said this is what the Pakistani people want us to work on, and we built this Strategic Dialogue with these needs in mind.


Today, I am pleased to announce several new programs the United States will undertake as a direct result of this dialogue in partnership with the government and people of Pakistan. Last October, I described the first phase of a signature energy program to help increase energy production and reduce the blackouts that have plagued Pakistani cities and communities for months.


The United States wants to support that progress with the second phase of our signature energy program. We have maps up here which show what we are doing. I’ll mention a few of the projects. We will complete two hydroelectric dam projects, the Satpara dam in Skardu which will supply electricity to more than 280,000 people, and the Gomal Zam dam in South Waziristan which will provide electricity to 25,000 homes. We have seven projects. You can see on the map where they’re located in terms of the energy. We’re also helping Pakistan develop alternative energy sources like wind and solar power, as well as its natural gas reserves.


We are creating a signature water program in Pakistan. First, we will be building or rebuilding the municipal water systems for Peshawar and Jacobabad, everything from water distribution to storage to treatment. Second, in 139 municipalities in Southern Punjab with a combined population of more than 50 million people, we will be working with local governments to ensure that people have safe drinking water and improved sanitation. Third, we will build water storage systems for the Satpara dam to supply 3 million gallons of clean drinking water per day and for the Gomal Zam dam which will irrigate 190,000 acres, reaching 30,000 farming families. And fourth, in each of Pakistan’s four provinces, we will provide the drip irrigation technology and training that we’ve heard over and over again farmers are asking for.


Another critical need is healthcare, and I’m pleased to announce we will either renovate or build three medical facilities. In Lahore we will triple the size of Pakistan’s largest maternity hospital. In Karachi we will build a surgical ward for mothers injured in childbirth. And in Jacobabad, we will renovate the hospital that serves 1 million people in Northern Sindh and Balochistan.


We want to work with Pakistan to promote economic growth and the creation of jobs. Pakistan, as the minister has said, has made progress and we really salute the country and particularly the tough decisions made by this government to move out of economic crisis and into economic stability. You’ve enacted some important reforms to attract foreign investment and encourage new businesses. Now you face some hard choices, such as meaningful tax reforms that are needed to put Pakistan on the path to long-term economic prosperity. The United States will offer support while you make these tough reforms.


And we want to help improve economic opportunities especially for the large numbers of young people who are coming of age now and are looking for their chance to make their own mark on the world. To that end, we will invest $100 million to expand access to credit for small and medium size enterprises so more good ideas have the chance to become successful businesses. And through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, we will provide $50 million to support private equity investments in innovation and technology projects in Pakistan.


One sector primed to grow is farming, and so to support agricultural productivity in Pakistan, we will help develop a rural dairy program and the infrastructure to export Pakistan’s mangos, which I can say from personal experience are going to be very welcome on the shelves of American stores.


These are just a few of the programs the United States is committed to undertake on behalf of the people of Pakistan. As you can see from the maps behind me, we have programs across the country and across sectors. All of these programs were made possible by the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, which tripled our non-military aid to Pakistan to $7.5 billion over five years. We hope that projects like these will translate into real-life improvements for families and communities. These are not one-time expenditures. They are long-term investments in Pakistan’s future. We are committed to continuing our work with the Government of Pakistan to find ways to deliver services and opportunities that the people need to have.


When this dialogue convened in Washington in March, I said that it represented a new day in relations between our countries. But of course, this is not the work of any one day, but of every day. And so we must continue to hold these discussions and to move beyond them. We have to approach our work with patience and persistence to solve problems, meet challenges, and fulfill the promises made to our people.


In 1948, on the one-year anniversary of Pakistan’s creation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the man who worked so hard to make Pakistan a reality, spoke to your new nation. It was just a month before his death. Here’s what he said: “Nature has given you everything. You have got unlimited resources. The foundations of your state have been laid and it is now for you to build and build quickly and as well as you can.”


Today, this collaboration between Pakistan and the United States is blessed with resources, most particularly the talent and ingenuity of our people. And together, we are laying the foundation for an enduring partnership. It is now for us to follow the Quaid e Azam’s urgent advice and build as quickly and as well as we can a future of security, prosperity, and peace for both of our countries.


Thank you, Minister Qureshi.


PRN: 2010/T32-2