ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari Thursday called upon the international community especially the United States to step forward and prepare a ‘Marshall plan’ for Pakistan for strategic economic stability and advancement of Pakistan’s development agenda.
The people of Pakistan had suffered greatly as a result of the ongoing fight against militancy and terrorism and there was need for the international community to give our people the peace dividend by way of massive economic assistance, energy development and greater market access. The President said this during his one on one and delegation level meetings with John Kerry, US Secretary of State at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar, while briefing about the meetings said that Secretary Kerry congratulated the President on the peaceful and democratic transfer of civilian power in the country and lauded his overseeing various phases of the smooth transition.
He termed the smooth power transfer a significant milestone in Pakistan’sdemocratic progress and said that people of Pakistan have affirmed commitment todemocratic rule, which he said is critical to achieving peace and prosperity.Thanking Secretary John Kerry, the President stated that the credit forfirst ever smooth power transfer went to the democratic forces, all the politicalparties, the Parliament and all the people of Pakistan for enthusiasticparticipation in the electoral process despite threats from militants andextremists.
The President said that smooth transition reflected the democratic ethosof the people.The President also appreciated John Kerry’s expressed support to the peopleof Pakistan.The Spokesperson said that Pak-US bilateral relations, reconciliation inAfghanistan, drone attacks and global and regional issues were discussed duringthe meeting.On drone attacks, the President said that drone strikes in FATA by the USviolates Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and was also negativelyimpacting on the mutual desire of both countries to forge a cordial andcooperative relationship and to ensure peace and stability in the region.
President Zardari called for an end to the drone attacks and said thatthese strikes are counter-productive, entails loss of innocent civilian lives andalso fuels anti American feelings.The President called for sustainable and positive relationship betweenPakistan and United States on the basis of mutual respect, mutual trust andmutual interest.The goal of establishing a long-term and durable Pak-US equation wouldremain elusive till the issue of trust deficit is addressed in an effectivemanner.He urged the need for enhanced trade and investment ties between the twocountries and increased market access of Pakistani goods to the US.
The President said that enhanced market access for Pakistan’s exports inthe US will translate into economic growth and decreased poverty which he saidwas needed to decrease incentive for unemployed youth to be recruited byterrorists.The President stressed for closer cooperation in areas such as economy,trade, energy, socio-economic development, agriculture and water issues, scienceand technology and defence cooperation.He urged the need for more concerted steps on both sides to double thetrade volume from existing US $5.1 billion between the two countries.
The President said that the Strategic Dialogue was a successful platformfor substantive discussions on cooperation and partnership and called forrestoring the previous ministerial level of the dialogue.Discussing regional situation, the President said that Pakistan believedregional peace and security was vital for its own peace, security anddevelopment.He reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to continue to play its helpfulrole at restoring peace, stability and development in Afghanistan and in theregion.
The President said Pakistan supported an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peaceprocess and welcomed all efforts being made for finding a peaceful solution tothe long drawn conflict in Afghanistan.He expressed hope that the efforts made would also take into accountlegitimate concerns of all the stakeholders.Discussing militancy and terrorism, the President said that Pakistan hassuffered the most in terms of human and financial losses in the ongoing fightagainst militancy and reiterated that Pakistan will continue to fight the menacetill its logical conclusion.
He however called for a Marshall Plan for Pakistan to overcome the problemsin the wake of fight against militancy.Those who were present during the meeting included US ambassador inIslamabad Richard Olson, John Bass, executive Secretary State Office, JamesDobbins, special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and other seniorofficials.Pakistan side included Sartaj Aziz, Advisor on National Security andForeign Affairs, Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar, ForeignSecretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and Secretary to the President Ms. Nasreen Haq.