The United States is deeply invested in helping Pakistan prosper as "a strong democracy in a stable region," and improving the daily lives of Pakistan’s people.
The U.S. and Pakistan face a common threat: al Qaeda and Taliban extremists. "[Pakistan] faces an insurgency in the west, which is very dangerous both to [Pakistan} and to the United States because it's from that area, in the Western part of the country, that the attacks are launched against American and NATO troops," said U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke.
Insurgents based in this area also frequently stage brutal attacks on innocent Pakistani civilians at places of worship, public sporting events and marketplaces. And so, the U.S. is "looking for ways we can help Pakistan strengthen itself, strengthen democracy and help it fight the insurgents in the west," said Mr. Holbrooke. With that in mind, the U.S. Congress last year authorized seven and a half billion dollars over five years in economic assistance to Pakistan.
As a result of consultations with Pakistan to determine priority areas for U.S. assistance, it was determined that helping Pakistan address its chronic water and energy shortages would take top priority. "We are putting more and more emphasis on energy and water issues, and we will continue to do so," said Ambassador Holbrooke. "Pakistan is a complicated country that faces huge economic, energy and water problems. . . . And in this overall context, the Pakistanis are dealing with their problems. But [they] need our support."
In her October visit to Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a commitment of $125 million to improve the country’s energy sector. This launched the first phase of a Signature Energy Program by the United States to support Pakistan’s energy development.
And in late March, U.S. and Pakistan signed three implementation letters committing $51 million to rehabilitate, refurbish and upgrade three energy projects in Pakistan: the Guddu Thermal Power Station, Muzaffargarh Thermal Power Station and the Jamshoro Thermal Plant, which will restore over 250 megawatts of capacity to the national grid. U.S. support has already begun implementation in a similar efficiency program at the Tarbela Dam Hydroelectric Power Station for an additional 80 megawatts in capacity.
"The main crisis facing Pakistan right now from their point of view is the energy crisis and the economy," said Ambassador Holbrooke. "Those are big deals, and we're trying to help them."