Ambassador Blome highlights strong US-Pakistan partnership at US Independence Day event in Islamabad

The United States Ambassador to Pakistan, Donald Blome, celebrated the 248th anniversary of US independence at a ceremony in Islamabad, highlighting the enduring and multifaceted partnership between the US and Pakistan.

The event, held on July 2, was attended by Minister of Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal, among other dignitaries.

In his address, Ambassador Blome remarked on the often overlooked but significant history of cooperation between the two nations. He drew an analogy between the global rise of new powers and the popularity of cricket, humorously noting his newfound appreciation for the T20 game after witnessing its excitement in Dallas.

Ambassador Blome acknowledged the common perception of US-Pakistan relations as fraught with challenges but emphasized the long-standing collaboration and shared ideals between the two countries.

“Pakistan is a country that, like the United States, emerged from its own hard-won struggle for independence, and like the United States, is still writing its own story. And one characteristic that our countries share is an obsession among our thinkers and leaders with discussing the very purpose of our societies and politics. This idealism is healthy and it provides the basis for renewal and growth,” he said.

Donald Blome added that “It has become commonplace to observe that the United States and Pakistan have sometimes struggled to understand each other.  But that observation can obscure the long history of partnership and cooperation between our two countries. In Urdu, you say: “Humaray safer ka her eik qadam ahmiet rakhta hay,” “each step of the journey is important.”

Reflecting on historical milestones, Ambassador Blome noted the strong defense ties during the Cold War and the close cooperation during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He also addressed more recent tensions post-9/11 and the challenges arising from divergent political priorities.

“While at times we have had to tackle great challenges – such as floods, war, a pandemic and economic setbacks – those of us who have worked together to strengthen this relationship have always recognized that the partnership is, and has always been, part of a longer journey toward increased prosperity and security for our two nations, and that each step on this journey is important,” he remarked.

Economic partnership

Highlighting the economic ties, Ambassador Blome praised American businesses for their significant role in Pakistan’s economy. He mentioned the crucial contributions of US companies in employing and training Pakistani professionals, which has bolstered local industries. He proudly stated, “The US is proud to be Pakistan’s largest export market globally.”

The ambassador underscored the US commitment to Pakistan’s infrastructure and energy sectors, citing examples of long-term investments such as the upgrades to the Mangla and Tarbela dams with new GE turbines. “The originals lasted for 50 years, and the new versions will last another 50 years – a 100-year investment in Pakistan funded directly, not through loans,” he said.

Green Alliance and climate fund

Ambassador Blome also highlighted the US-Pakistan “Green Alliance,” an initiative aimed at strengthening climate resilience, energy transformation, and inclusive growth in Pakistan. He announced the upcoming launch of a climate-smart agriculture program to support Pakistani farmers in adapting to climate change. He mentioned that the US contributed $1 billion to the Green Climate Fund and helped unlock millions of these dollars in climate mitigation and adaptation projects to enhance Pakistan’s resilience to climate change.

Healthcare

In healthcare, the ambassador noted a groundbreaking $9 million initiative launched with the Sindh government to combat tuberculosis, alongside significant US funding to address malnutrition and improve education infrastructure in Pakistan.

The U.S. provides more than $85 million in funding to address malnutrition in Pakistan, including $12 million to treat acutely malnourished children.

Cultural and educational exchanges

Cultural and educational exchanges also form a cornerstone of the US-Pakistan relationship, with over 500 Pakistanis visiting the US annually for various programs. The US has supported 35 cultural preservation projects in Pakistan over the past two decades, enhancing the conservation of the country’s rich heritage. These include supporting the conservation of Gandhara archaeological treasures, Mughal architectural heritage such as the Wazir Khan Mosque, the restoration of Sufi shrines and Hindu monuments such as Hazrat Shah Shams Tabraiz and Varun Dev, and the preservation of Buddhist monasteries such as Takht-i-Bahi.

In closing, Ambassador Blome reiterated the importance of the US-Pakistan partnership, stating, “As we celebrate Independence Day, we also celebrate the steps we have taken together. Each step of the journey is important.”

The ceremony concluded with a celebration of US Independence Day, fostering a spirit of camaraderie and shared purpose between the two nations.

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