The United States and Pakistan will continue
to work closely.

Ervin Massinga, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Pakistan Affairs at the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs in the US State Department, visited Pakistan in December 2019. Here he talks to SouthAsia magazine in an exclusive interview.

Interview | February 2020

How important is Pakistan in the overall worldview of the United States?

The United States has always viewed a strong, prosperous, democratic Pakistan, at peace with itself and its neighbors, as critical to U.S. interests. We have had a multi-faceted relationship with Pakistan dating back to Pakistan’s independence in 1947, encompassing cooperation on security, trade and investment, and close ties between our two peoples. Although challenges in our relationship remain, Prime Minister Khan’s July 2019 visit to the White House demonstrated that the United States and Pakistan can work together on issues that are vital to U.S. and Pakistani national security and to peace, stability, and prosperity in South Asia.

How would you describe U.S.-Pakistan relations at present?

The Trump Administration sees the U.S.-Pakistan relationship as one with real potential. We have made clear that fulfilling that potential requires progress on our joint efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan and on Pakistan taking sustained and irreversible action against the militant groups that operate from its soil

President Trump and Prime Minister Khan also agreed during the latter’s visit that there is much potential to expand our trade relationship beyond the current historic level of $6.6 billion. We have already made strides toward this goal. In agriculture, U.S. soybean exports are helping grow Pakistan’s livestock industry, U.S cotton boosts Pakistan’s growing exports in the textile industry, and the first-ever commercial sea shipment of U.S. Holstein cows in November will help Pakistan increase its dairy production. The U.S. Department of Commerce is organizing 10 Pakistani buyer delegations to the United States and five regional trade shows in 2020 to build deeper relationships between U.S. and Pakistani firms. These programs will correspond to the priority sectors of energy, infrastructure, agriculture, healthcare, and digital economy – areas where there is concrete, practical room to grow trade and address Pakistan’s domestic development priorities.

We also enjoy strong cooperation on integrating women into the economy through initiatives such as the U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council. Through the Council, a public-private partnership, companies such as Citigroup, PepsiCo, S&P Global, and Proctor & Gamble make commitments to empower women and strengthen Pakistan’s economy through mentoring, hiring, supply-chain diversity initiatives, internships, and other activities. These companies know integrating women into the economy is not just good for society, it’s good for business.

There is also agreement between the leaderships of both our countries that our people and business communities would benefit greatly from improved relations, so our focus right now is on taking practical steps to increase cooperation on security and economic issues, as we continue to emphasize the need for Pakistan to contribute to a more peaceful South Asia.

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