When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met in Washington for the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialog in March, they spent a great deal of time and effort discussing how to help Pakistan handle some of its most serious political, social, economic, development and security challenges. They also set up 13 strategic dialog groups to discuss topics of special importance.
At the invitation of Foreign Minister Qureshi, these working groups met in Islamabad in June and July, working to find ways to strengthen Pakistan's development. Field experts as well as both U.S. and Pakistani policymakers within each sector participated in these meetings. Working separately, the 13 groups strove to identify projects in key areas and create plans for making consistent progress.
"In all of these meetings, we are discussing real policy issues and how to work together to advance our common agenda," said Special U.S. Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke. "This is real progress across the board."
For example, water management, one of the key areas of collaboration between the two countries, was discussed at one of the working groups in June. "This was the first time we have discussed water issues with Pakistan in such detail," said Richard Holbrooke.
In the meantime, the energy working group considered short and medium-term solutions to energy shortages, as well as long-term measures such as increasing private-sector investment. At the same time, the science and technology working group looked for ways to promote innovation and entrepreneurship within our two countries.
Similar discussions took place in groups devoted to agriculture; communications and public diplomacy; defense; economics and finance; education; health; law enforcement and counterterrorism; market access; women's empowerment; and security, strategic stability and nonproliferation.
"This is not the work of one day, but every day," said Secretary of State Clinton. "And we must continue to hold these discussions and to move beyond these discussions, with patience and persistence, to solve problems, meet challenges, and fulfill the promises we have made to our people. Today, this collaboration between Pakistan and the United States is blessed with resources that might well be limitless – above all, the talent and ingenuity of our citizens."
Together, said Secretary Clinton, "we are laying the foundations for an enduring partnership."