`Renewed opportunity for US-Pak ties as supply lines reopen`
Washington: Acknowledging that the last several years have been extremely difficult for bilateral ties, US Ambassador-designate to Pakistan on Tuesday told lawmakers that the recent re-opening of the NATO supply lines provides renewed opportunity of relationship with Islamabad.
Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Olson stressed on the need to unlock the economic potential of Pakistan, which can be achieved by improving Indo-Pak trade relationship.
Olson during his confirmation hearing also reiterated America`s commitment to promote democratic and political stability in Pakistan.
"Promoting democratic and economic stability in Pakistan is also in our shared interest. Despite the current internal political turmoil, Pakistan`s upcoming general election it will mark the country`s first transition of power from one civilian government to another - the first in Pakistan`s history," he said.
The ambassador-designate said the last several years have been extremely difficult for US-Pak relations and added that bilateral relationship is not always an easy one, but is important for both the countries.
Throughout the past year - one that has been marked by events including the May 2 raid against Osama Bin Laden and the November 26 Salala cross-border incident that resulted in the deaths of 24 Pakistani troops and the subsequent closure of the Ground Lines of Communication - we have continued to engage the Pakistanis at the highest levels, he said.
"We are committed to putting this relationship on more stable footing. The re-opening of the NATO supply lines provides a renewed opportunity to increase cooperation on our many shared interests," Olson said.
He said unlocking Pakistan`s economic potential by supporting private sector growth and expanding trade and economic cooperation across borders is central to creating jobs for Pakistan`s dynamic people.
"Progress on normalising trade relations between India and Pakistan will have a tremendous impact on increasing regional economic cooperation in line with Secretary (Hillary) Clinton`s vision for a New Silk Road linking the economies of South and Central Asia," he said.
"And our continuing civilian assistance, which is focused on five priority sectors - energy, economic growth, stabilisation of the border areas, education, and health - also helps promote a secure, stable, democratic Pakistan, and stimulate economic growth, over time," the top American diplomat said.
The US, he said, also shares an interest in supporting political stability and security in Afghanistan.
"As President (Barack) Obama said on May 2, we want Pakistan to be a full partner in supporting Afghan peace and stability in a way that respects Pakistan`s sovereignty, interests, and democratic institutions," he said.
"Pakistani officials have told us repeatedly that, more than any other nation, they have a vested interest in seeing a stable, secure, Afghanistan," Olson said.
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