US, Pakistan must continue cooperation against terrorism: Zardari

President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday said the existing cooperation between Pakistan and United States must continue to fight the menace of terrorism and extremism.He said Pakistan values a long-term, multifaceted and durable strategic partnership with the United States based on mutual trust and respect.The President was talking to the senior advisor to US President and NSC Senior Director for Economics David Lipton who called on him at Aiwan-e-Sadr.David Lipton was accompanied by Charles Collyns, Assistant Secretary of Treasury, Ms. Rebecca Lawlor, Treasury Economist and Ms. Mary Beth Goodman.

From Pakistani side those who attended the meting included Dr.  Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Federal Minister for Finance, Syed Naveed Qamar, Federal Minister for Petroleum & Natural Resources, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Federal Minister for Water & Power, M. Salman Faruqui, Secretary General to the President, Senator Syeda Sughra Imam, Ms Farahnaz Ispahani, Malik Asif Hayat, Secretary to the President, Dr. Waqar Masood Khan, Secretary Finance and Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar.

Briefing media about the meeting, Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar said Pak-US bilateral relations with special reference to economic and energy cooperation came under discussion during the meting. The President emphasized the need for early adoption of ROZ legislation and reimbursement of Coalition Support Fund arrears. The strategic dialogue between the two countries has been instrumental in redefining a multi-dimensional, institutionalized and long term partnership, the President said and added that it was important that the dialogue starts yielding visible results positively impacting the lives of ordinary Pakistanis.

He said that Pakistan has paid a heavy price in terms of both human and material losses in fighting militancy and it looked forward to international assistance in meeting the challenges faced by it. He said Pakistan needed trade and market access for its products to revive the war and flood hit economy. The President said defeating the extremists on ground was one part of the battle and that complete success entails the changing of the militant mindset through provision of education and employment opportunities to the people of restive areas. He said both the countries needed to cooperate in order to give local people hope through creation of jobs and other economic opportunities.

For this purpose, the President said that ROZs legislation needed to be expedited.
He said that ROZs would open new vistas of economic opportunities for the affected people and would be an effective tool in winning the war of hearts and minds. The President appreciated US commitment to contribute US $ 190 million for Citizens Damage Compensation Fund (CDCF) for the flood affectees and US $ 66 million for Gomal Zam and Satpara dams. David Lipton reiterated that United States is committed to a long-term strategic partnership with Pakistan saying that US Administration was conscious of the need for creating economic opportunity for the Pakistani people in their fight against militancy. He expressed determination to strengthen the ties between the two countries in all areas including trade, economic growth, and development.

The President said the government and people of Pakistan look forward to the forthcoming visit of President Obama to Pakistan in 2011, which he said will open a new chapter in Pak-US relations by further boosting the long term strategic partnership between the two countries. David Lipton assured that US would continue to support Pakistan and would provide all possible assistance in strengthening of democracy, security, socio-economic development and welfare of the people of Pakistan. He said that United States valued Pakistan’s desire for peace and stability in the region. – App