Pakistan's goals for bilateral relationships are to establish symbiotic cooperation on economic, security, education and humanitarian issues. President Asif Ali Zardari propels these initiatives through strong relationships with regional and world leaders.
Afghanistan - President Zardari made his first trip to Afghanistan in January 2009, pledging to combat terrorism. The two countries have worked together to bring security in the region. In September 2010, Afghan President Hamid Karzai traveled to Pakistan addressing new tactics to fight militancy. The two presidents discussed ways to tackle sanctuaries, training grounds, ideologies and financial resources of terrorists.
President Zardari believes in a prosperous, stable and peaceful Afghanistan. In order to enhance cooperation amongst the two countries, in October 2010, the President has signed a Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement. This Agreement will boost bilateral relations, economic development and also contribute to the peace and security stability of the region.
President Zardari has also signed a much needed Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and India. Under this agreement a gas-pipeline (TAPI) will be constructed, supplying billions of cubic feet of gas per day to Pakistan. The IGA will also provide regional harmony and prosperity amongst the four nations.
China - President Zardari has undertaken several visits to China since taking office. Pakistan and China have a long lasting and time endured relationship that has strengthened under President Zardari. In December 2010, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao made a visit to Pakistan and presented economic trade worth $34 billion to the people of Pakistan. President Zardari has also secured trade agreements in order to enhance Pakistan's infrastructure, expand communications and trade routes with China. The President further believes access to Chinese markets will increase investment opportunities and boost Pakistan's energy sector in components of hydro, coal, thermal, wind and solar and nuclear power reactors to overcome Pakistan's demand.
President Zardari has inked over 50 Memoranda of Understanding with China, to help Pakistan's development and growth, agricultural sector, banking sector, flood relief efforts and regional stability. A currency swap with China and Sri Lanka has also been initiated at the behest of President Zardari.
In July 2010, President Zardari made his fifth official visit to China. During his visit, the President held talks with the top Chinese leadership including President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, as well as provincial political leaders and leaders of the corporate sector. Pakistan and China reaffirmed the strategic relationship between the two countries, agreeing to increase the level of economic cooperation and take concrete measures to further bring their peoples closer together.
France - In his meetings with French President Sarkozy and French Foreign Minister Bernanr Kouchner, President Zardari agreed to deepen political, economic and security cooperation with France. Due to the Presidents diplomatic efforts, France has contributed $16.7 million for IDPs of Swat. Pakistan and France have signed a protocol on 11 December 2009 under which the French government will offer a loan of $95.3 million for construction of a water treatment plant in Lahore. Two other projects for water supply to Islamabad and the construction of a sanitation infrastructure in Faisalabad are also being negotiated.
In August 2010, France and Pakistan agreed to set up a joint commission to undertake cooperative projects in food and agriculture, economic development, security and medical training. The meeting of the Joint Commission, comprising four representatives from each country, will be held alternately in Islamabad and Paris with the first meeting to be held in Islamabad.
During the devastating 2010 floods, President Zardari called for massive international assistance in meeting the situation arising out of the floods, which killed more than 1,200 people in the Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa province alone and rendered hundreds of thousands of people homeless. In response, France granted Pakistan 550,000 Euros to relief groups working on the flood and 350,000 Euros for the UN World Food Programme.
India- Under President Zardari's leadership, there has been significant improvement in the atmospherics between Pakistan and India after the resumption of the Composite Dialogue. The annual bilateral trade between Pakistan and India has reached the $1.98 billion mark. Understanding the need for improved relations with India, President Zardari has stated "destinies of the people of both Pakistan and India and the development of the entire region lies in friendly, cooperative and good neighbourly relations between the two countries".
The Foreign Minister of Pakistan visited India twice in June and November 2008. Furthermore, a Memorandum of Understanding between Pakistan and India on Drug Demand Reduction and Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotics Drugs/Psychotropic Substance and Precursor Chemicals and Related Matters was initialed during the Interior/Home Secretary-level talks between Pakistan and India held in Islamabad on 24-25 November 2008.
Pakistan has provided its full cooperation to India in the investigations of Mumbai attacks. The Foreign Secretary visited New Delhi for a meeting with the Indian Foreign Secretary held on 25 February 2010. In addition to an in-depth exchange of views with the Indian Foreign Secretary, he also met India's National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna. A roadmap on future engagements has been proposed by Pakistan to India.
Russia - In his bilateral meetings with President Dimitry Medvedev, President Zardari has vastly improved relations with Russia. President Zardari and Medvedev both share a vision for a stable Afghanistan, which has stimulated cooperation between the two countries. President Zardari has directed efforts for collaboration in oil and gas sector, joint ventures between Pakistan and Russian Railways, cooperation in fertilizer between Fauji Fertilizer and AZOT chemicals manufacturing have gained strength.
In discussions, Pakistan and Russia agreed to convene an inaugural Russia-Pakistan Inter-Governmental Commission in Islamabad to further streamline economic cooperation between the two countries. President Medvedev also expressed willingness to participate in the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline project, renovation and expansion of the Pakistan Steel Mills, upgrading of railway tracks, and projects in the energy and education sectors.
United Kingdom - President Zardari understands the need for a strong relationship between Pakistan and the United Kingdom to evolve. Such a relationship would strengthen multidimensional partnership, encompassing all important areas including education, cultural exchanges, trade, investment, human resource development and capacity building.
President Zardari has established strong ties with the United Kingdom. During President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to the U.K. on 13-14 May 2009, Pakistan-U.K. Strategic Dialogue was established. The Strategic Dialogue will address a number of priority areas including counter-terrorism, promotion of stability, poverty reduction, and sustainable economic development. A Pakistan-U.K. Education Task Force was set up on 8 December 2009 to deepen cooperation between the two countries in the education sector.
During his visits to London, the President raised issues related to visas for Pakistanis, especially students and immigration matters. Britain announced a commitment of $1.05 billion of development assistance for Pakistan for the period 2009- 2013. In addition, the former British Prime Minister announced $19.04 million assistance for IDPs, while its total commitment is $34.9 million. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown co-chaired with President Zardari and President Obama the First Friends of Democratic Pakistan Forum Summit held on September 24, 2009 at New York.
United States - President Zardari and his government have conducted high-level engagements between the United States and Pakistan. Such efforts include the Friends of Democratic Pakistan initiative, development of Pakistan's economy, efforts to strengthen democracy, enhanced trade agreements and accessibility to markets in both countries, a resolve to counter extremism and an opportunity to build a people-to-people relationship between the two countries.
Pakistan values a long-term, multifaceted and durable strategic partnership with the United States based on mutual trust and respect. President Zardari has secured assistance from the United States for the growth and expansion of Pakistan's economy. For this purpose, the President is working closely with the US government for establishing Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) in order promote economic growth by providing tariff-free access to the US market for goods produced in areas that face development challenges. Furthermore, President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani have welcomed an Economic Assistance Package, commonly known as the Kerry-Lugar Bill, which was approved by the US Congress in September 2010. This non-military aid package focuses primarily on the people of Pakistan. With a constant injection of $1.5 billion into Pakistan's development projects, the President has vowed to work for the people of Pakistan.
President Zardari has sought a partnership with the United States by triumphing over economic hurdles and has placed emphasis on long-term goals. Such goals include overcoming limited energy resources, facilitation in getting market access, capacity building of civilian institutions and investment in education and social sector. Due to President Zardari's efforts, Secretary Clinton announced a $500 million aid package for Pakistan in July 2010. This package pertains to investments in irrigation projects for rural areas, agricultural and energy sector, construction of health facilities and hydroelectric dams along with investments in Pakistani companies to help with technological upgrades while funds will be to expand credit for small and medium-sized businesses throughout Pakistan.
Pakistan and the United States have also agreed to discuss issues relating to Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) in order to stimulate investment in Pakistan. For the first time, discussions were held on creating an Investment Fund to support increased FDI and development in Pakistan. The Government was successful in getting the United States to recognize the importance of assistance to Pakistan to overcome energy deficit and further intensify and expand comprehensive cooperation in the energy sector.
LATEST BLOG POSTS
APRIL 25, 2011
As a nation, we face challenges, some of them undeniably tough, like the threat of extremism, a troubled economy, a...