The U.S.–Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, which met for the third ministerial-level meeting this year on October 20-22, represents the shared commitment of the U.S. and Pakistan to strengthening the bilateral relationship as a broad partnership based on shared democratic values, mutual respect, trust, and interests. The Dialogue’s thirteen working groups have been meeting regularly both in Washington and in Pakistan and have mutually agreed upon action plans, delineating achievable benchmarks, which they are now working to implement.
Ten of the thirteen groups met in Washington as part of the October 20-22 Dialogue. Below is a list of key outcomes from this latest round of meetings.
Agriculture Working Group: Co-chaired by U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Darci Vetter and USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Alex Their and Pakistan Minister of Food and Agriculture Nazar Muhammad Gondal, the group had an open and constructive discussion on post-flood recovery needs for the agriculture sector. The Pakistan delegation expressed appreciation for recent sanitary and phyto-sanitary approvals to allow the export of Pakistani mangos to the United States. Both sides renewed their commitment to the Agricultural Investment Strategy and ongoing agricultural development projects, such as the Rural Dairy Project, the Mango Export Project, and the agricultural productivity initiatives announced by Secretary Clinton during her July trip. Tangible progress on implementation of the Agriculture Strategy was exemplified with the initiation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wheat Productivity Enhancement Program, Cotton Productivity Enhancement Program and Animal and Plant Disease Control Programs in collaboration with Pakistani counterparts.
Communications Working Group: Chaired by Department of State Under Secretary Judith McHale and Pakistan Minister of Information Qamar Zaman Kaira, the sides agreed to intensify cooperation in the development of Pakistan’s public media sector infrastructure; the preservation of historic archival materials; in building communications capacity and messaging; and in developing new communications technologies in the public interest. The U.S. offered to provide training opportunities that would permit Pakistanis and Americans to work together directly, through 125 journalism internships and 80 public administration internships, some of which will be reserved for officials from information-related public services. The U.S. agreed to support the development of a major Government of Pakistan Data Center and a launch of citizen-centric electronic government services. The U.S. also agreed to work with the Ministry of Information Technology, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and other Pakistan government ministries to review and upgrade Pakistan’s disaster management information services.
Defense Working Group: Chaired by Department of Defense Under Secretary Michèle Flournoy and Pakistan Secretary of Defense Athar Ali, the U.S. and Pakistani participants recounted the Pakistan military's extensive flood relief operations and the cooperative efforts between Pakistan and the U.S. to support flood relief, discussed Pakistan's progress in implementing counterinsurgency operations, reviewed improving communication between coalition forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan military forces on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, assessed progress made in bilateral defense cooperation, and confirmed that further efforts will be undertaken at an upcoming Resources Conference. The engagement followed up on the August Defense Consultative Group meeting in Islamabad, also chaired by Under Secretary Flournoy and Defense Secretary Athar Ali, as well as two Exchanges on Defense Planning (EDP) sessions in June and July. The working group meetings over the past seven months were crucial to the development of the $2.029 billion Multi-Year Security Assistance Commitment Secretary Clinton announced at the plenary session of the Strategic Dialogue.
Economic Cluster Working Group: Chaired by National Security Council (NSC) Senior Director and Special Assistant to the President David Lipton and Pakistan Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the U.S. and Pakistani sides reviewed the macroeconomic stabilization program developed by Pakistan in consultation with the International Financial Institutions. The working group also discussed Pakistan’s plan to provide damage compensation to flood-affected families, and improving business-to-business investment ties. Both sides noted the importance and desire to create an Enterprise Fund. On market access, the two sides discussed extending enhanced market access, specifically seeking Congressional approval for the Reconstruction Opportunity Zone (ROZ) legislation. The U.S. welcomed the approval of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Treaty and praised Pakistani efforts to expand regional trade ties.
Energy Working Group: Chaired by NSC Senior Director and Special Assistant to the President David Lipton and Pakistan Minister of Water and Power Pervez Ashraf, the group had extensive discussions on the status of Pakistan’s energy sector in the aftermath of the floods and the on-going implementation of the projects in the U.S. Signature Energy Program. Pakistan highlighted efforts underway to restore the energy sector’s full operational capacity and repair flood damaged infrastructure. Pakistan also briefed on domestic restructuring plans for the Pakistan Energy and Power Company (PEPCO) currently underway with anticipated completion in June 2011. Both sides reiterated support for implementing the energy reforms outlined in the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FODP) Energy Sector Task Force report released October 2010.
Health Working Group: Chaired by USAID Administrator Shah and Pakistan Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Shahnaz Wazir Ali, both sides agreed that implementation of the health action plan has been successful, and indentified four key areas to pursue in greater depth over the next period: (1) there will be a Federal-Provincial Structure Planning group formed with technical assistance support from donors and private sector input; (2) together we will renew focus on health care workforce planning and training; possibly engage with major donors (U.S., United Kingdom, World Bank) in this effort; (3) begin coordinating with other bilateral donors to plan for large scale immunization campaign (especially childhood diseases); and (4) work towards a diagnostic evaluation regarding the health care services provided by the Pakistani Private Sector, especially in regard to incentive schemes. The three hospital projects that make up the first phase of the Signature Health Program experienced delays due to the flooding but remain on track to be completed as follows: Jinnah Post Gradate Medial Complex (June 2011); Jacobabad Hospital (June 2011); and Lady Wellington Hospital (June 2012).
Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism Working Group: Chaired by the State Department’s Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism Ambassador Daniel Benjamin and Pakistan Interior Secretary Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, U.S. and Pakistani participants agreed to the establishment of a Border Management Working Group to enhance cooperation. Pakistan announced that it planned to establish a forum on eliminating Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that will hold its first workshop on November 28 in Islamabad. The U.S. and Pakistan agreed to work together on prosecutorial training planned for November to develop and/or refine the legal mechanisms needed to investigate and prosecute terrorist, narcotics and other serious criminal cases. The two sides also renewed cooperation between DEA and the Anti-Narcotics Forces (ANF) over the coming year.
Water Working Group: Chaired by Department of State Under Secretary Maria Otero and Pakistan Water & Power Development Authority Chairman Shakeel Durrani, U.S. and Pakistani participants reviewed the implementation status of Secretary Clinton’s Signature Water Program for Pakistan. Despite the floods, most of the initial engineering and other planning studies and surveys have been completed and building will begin in six months for most of the projects. Both sides agreed to integrate the joint work of the Working Group and the Government of Pakistan on a national water policy and to collaborate closely with the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FODP) initiated Water Task Force led by the Asian Development Bank.
Women’s Empowerment Working Group: Chaired by the Department of State’s Ambassador-At-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and Pakistan Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Shahnaz Wazir Ali, both sides announced funding commitments and generated new ideas for programs supporting practical business training and microfinance for women entrepreneurs, as well as programs aimed to advance women’s political participation and engagement.
The third round of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue included meetings of ten of the thirteen working groups. The Economics & Finance and Market Access Working Groups met concurrently during the Economics Cluster session. The chairs of the Education Working Group also held a separate bilateral meeting on the margins of the Strategic Dialogue. The remaining two working groups – the Security, Stability, and Non-Proliferation Working Group and the Science & Technology Working Group – have jointly developed action plans to guide their engagement and will meet again before the next Cabinet-level Strategic Dialogue meeting.
For more information on the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, please see: http://www.state.gov/p/sca/ci/pk/strategicdialogue/index.htm.