Strategic Dialogue: What happened in Washington?

Strategic Dialogue: What happened in Washington?

The final statement from the Strategic Dialogue between the US and Pakistan was a bit ambiguous and didn’t clearly describe the results. Pundits have already started to put a spin on the results.

Following is the text of a joint statement by the United States and Pakistan on the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue.

All eyes were on what “energy” meant and how the US would work with Pakistan on energy. Did it mean “Civilian Nuclear Technology” or did “energy” mean simply an upgrade of a couple of dilapidated plants?

  • Strategic dialogue: Pakistan expects concrete results from US
  • Islamabad’s Price for cooperation: Civilian Nuclear deal
  • Indian diabolical moves: Try to break US-Pakistan dialogue
  • Washington ’speaking with forked tongue’ again!
  • Richard Holbrooke had earlier stated that Ms. Hillary Clinton had changed her policy and acquiesced to the Pakistani Foreign Minister’s request for a Strategic Dialogue.

    Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told Reuters in an interview that meetings with US officials on nuclear cooperation, nonproliferation and export controls had gone well.

    “I am quite satisfied with the discussions we had,” Qureshi said when asked about the nuclear cooperation issue. “I would not like to expand on it at this stage.”

    He added that “the talks were very satisfactory” but declined to specify the kind of cooperation Pakistan sought.

    …Asked whether his country wanted the same kind of nuclear deal that Washington has with India, Qureshi said: “I am against discrimination.” Reuters

    When directly asked about the Civilian Nuclear program, the FM refused to comment on it. Was the silence hiding a breakthrough or was it hiding failure?

    Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi said “he was a happy man”. His body language and interaction with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showed that he felt very comfortable and that Hillary Clinton had come through.

    The statement described energy cooperation in the following manner:

    The United States recognized the importance of assisting Pakistan to overcome its energy deficit and committed to further intensify and expand comprehensive cooperation in the energy sector, including through the Signature Energy Program.

    This actually could mean anything. What does this cooperation mean? The answer would be that “it depends”.

  • Islamabad seeks parity, nuke plants. US agreeable
  • India blackmailing corporations to bend US policy
  • Ralph Peters predicts perpetual war and Taliban victory
  • Strategic dialogue or Strategic Farce?
  • Begin text:

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, accompanied by high level delegations, met in Washington on 24-25 March 2010 for the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue.

    In conformity with the importance that both the United States and Pakistan attach to taking further steps to broaden and deepen their comprehensive cooperation and to further fortify the friendship between the two peoples, the Strategic Dialogue was elevated to the Ministerial level.

    A Policy Steering Group was established to intensify and expand the sectoral dialogue process in the fields of: economy and trade; energy; defense; security, strategic stability and non-proliferation; law enforcement and counter-terrorism; science and technology; education; agriculture; water; health; and communications and public diplomacy. Sectoral meetings will be held in Islamabad soon.

    Both sides exchanged views on the status of bilateral cooperation and decided to continually provide strategic guidance for strengthening U.S.-Pakistan partnership in the 21st Century for realizing the aspirations of their people.

    They reiterated that the core foundations of this partnership are shared democratic values, mutual trust and mutual respect. A stable, enduring and broad-based cooperative partnership is in the fundamental interest of both countries. Both the United States and Pakistan are determined to foster goodwill and friendship between their people and engage in mutually beneficial cooperation.

    Secretary Clinton paid tribute to the courage and resolve of the people of Pakistan to eliminate terrorism and militancy. Both sides acknowledged the common threat that terrorism and extremism posed to global, regional and local security. Pakistan expressed its appreciation for U.S. security assistance. Both governments committed to redouble their efforts to deal effectively with terrorism and to protect the common ideals and shared values of democracy, tolerance, openness and respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights.

    Both sides exchanged views on measures to enhance Pakistan’s inherent capacities to realize the vision of a democratic, progressive state, committed to socio-economic advancement and to effectively address political, economic, development and security challenges.

    The United States re-affirmed its resolve to assist Pakistan to overcome socio-economic challenges by providing technical and economic assistance and to enable Pakistan to build its strengths by optimal utilization of its considerable human and natural resources and entrepreneurial skills.

    The United States committed to work towards enhanced market access for Pakistani products as well as towards the early finalization of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones legislation. The two governments decided to discuss issues related to the Bilateral Investment Treaty in order to stimulate investment in Pakistan.

    The United States and Pakistan discussed creating an investment fund to support increased foreign direct investment and development in Pakistan. Such a fund could provide much needed additional support for Pakistan’s energy sector and other high priority areas.

    The United States recognized the importance of assisting Pakistan to overcome its energy deficit and committed to further intensify and expand comprehensive cooperation in the energy sector, including through the Signature Energy Program.

    Recognizing the crucial importance of water for human survival and development, both sides decided to add a separate sectoral track in the Strategic Dialogue to focus on water conservation, watershed management and U.S. assistance in water projects.

    Pakistan expressed its appreciation for U.S. assistance for socio-economic development that would contribute towards improving the lives of the people of Pakistan.

    The two sides comprehensively shared perspectives on regional and global issues. Both reaffirmed the importance of advancing peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi reaffirmed their commitment to a wide-ranging, long-term and substantive strategic partnership between the United States and Pakistan.

    To carry forward this process, the next meeting of the Strategic Dialogue will be held in Islamabad co-chaired by Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Qureshi. U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue at the Ministerial Level March 24-25, 2010, Office of the Spokesman, Washington, DC, March 25, 2010

    Ikram Sehgal has defined some areas where Pakistan expected cooperation.

    Nations must hold their own interests uppermost. Compromise comes only in exceptional circumstances. For Pakistanis to believe that the US will tailor its “national security strategy” to dovetail with Pakistan’s core interests is naïve, and dangerous. For the US to believe the same in reverse would not be realistic. However, narrowing down the gaps is possible. A comprehensive review encompassing mutual interests in geopolitics and economics is necessary. While not reducing the importance of our dispute with India over Kashmir and water, these need a separate tripartite dialogue later.

    Pakistan is getting only a fraction of the military support it should get. Comparatively, Afghanistan is budgeted much more for doing far less. Weapons and equipment desperately needed to continue our counterinsurgency operations include helicopters, night-vision devices, mine-resistant armoured carriers and laser-guided bombs. With Kayani and Pakistan’s secretary of defence, Athar, in the government “A” team negotiating in Washington DC, the military wish-list can be quickly finalised.

    Glaring deficiencies need overcoming and/or rectification for lasting economic stability. In a recent memo to the Executive Council of the American Business Council, IBM’s Humayun Bashir noted that “energy shortages are choking. Pakistan needs short-term and long-term help in the following order: (1) onetime help to overcome circular debt, (2) rental power plants, (3) nuclear plants like India, and (4) water and hydel power (projects), Basha, etc.” The Executive Council echoed his suggestions about (1) effective policing for better law-and-order enforcement, (2) job creation, with emphasis on the IT sector, (3) agriculture promotion in order to double the yield in five years, (4) effective healthcare, and (5) developing the railways as the transportation backbone to reduce freight charges.

    Other then a new road and rail axis to augment north-south communications, our existing roads and bridges need compensation for heavy and constant wear and tear. Fees for “transit of supplies” may be negotiable but it is our right.

    …Pakistan desperately needs large nuclear-power plants to overcome its severe energy shortages.

    “The US-India nuclear accord has created a dangerous imbalance in nuclear détente with India that Pakistan has to address. Denying us cheap energy from nuclear plants makes no sense except cause hardship for our people.” A nuclear energy deal may be on the table in Washington DC, the acid test of a long-term meaningful relationship will be if Pakistan gets a similar nuclear pact as with India. If correcting misconceptions about the US image is also an objective, there is nothing more effective for a positive public perception in Pakistan than a nuclear deal.

    …The Pakistani granary that currently feeds Afghanistan and other countries in the region can be enhanced many times over by giving agriculture top priority. Mechanisation aside, better storage facilities, farm-to-market access roads, irrigation canals, tube wells, etc., are all needed. Since cotton serves our textile industry, this cash-earner is what holds up the economy. We need free access to US markets. Trade, not aid! To be practical and realistic, instead of having ROZs, the entire Fata must be made a free trade zone. Challenging adversity with imagination will ensure economic activity both sides of the Durand Line. Providing means of livelihood will give the inhabitants reason to protect the means thereof.

    …The deficiencies have been spelt out superbly by Dr Sania Nishtar in her must-read recent book Instead of criticism, she has taken the positive route of comprehensive recommendations of how to overcome glaring shortcomings. Choked Pipes is an excellent primer on how to go about setting up and managing meaningful healthcare in a developing country. The writer is a defence and political analyst. Email: Ikram Sehgal. The News. A ‘Pakistan surge’, Thursday, March 25, 2010, Ikram Sehgal

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