According to a statement by the State Department Rajiv Shah, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will sign three implementation letters committing $51 million to “rehabilitate, refurbish and upgrade three energy projects in Pakistan.”
The announcement came towards the end of the U.S.' Strategic Dialogue with Pakistan, including discussions between Pakistani Foreign Secretary Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Touching on the background to the initiative Ms. Clinton said, “We are working together to ensure that Pakistanis have access to affordable and reliable power, which is essential to funding economic development. When I was in Islamabad in October, we announced a signature energy program.” She said the three thermal power station rehabilitation projects would lead to more electricity in Pakistan.
The State Department said the USAID's investment in the Pakistani energy sector would target the Guddu Thermal Power Station, Muzaffargarh Thermal Power Station and the Jamshoro Thermal Plant. This investment would be “a major step in its partnership with the people and Government of Pakistan towards creating a stable, prosperous and peaceful Pakistan,” the statement said.
America and Pakistan also announced plans for the U.S. to spend $40 million to reconstruct and develop two roads in Pakistan of strategic importance. The announcement of the project came on Thursday, towards the end of the ongoing Strategic Dialogue between the two countries.
In a press statement Deputy Secretary of State Jacob Lew and Pakistan's Finance Secretary Salman Siddique said a letter of intent was signed regarding the “construction of priority roads in Pakistan to aid in Malakand Reconstruction.” The two roads that will be upgraded using investments from the U.S. are the Peshawar Ring Road and the road from Kanju to Madyan in Swat, North West Frontier Province.Providing justification for the project the Secretaries said, “Better roads improve security by enhancing access by law enforcement officials, lower the cost of marketing farm output, enhance trade and transportation, and generate jobs.” They added that the projects would be executed through the NWFP Government and will be awarded to Pakistani companies using established, competitive procedures.The first stretch of road under this project, the 43-kilometre-long Kanju-Madyan road in Swat, NWFP is strategically important road to the devastated Swat area as it would facilitate the movements of security forces, help maintain public safety, and address post conflict infrastructure rehabilitation. The Swat area was the site of a major military offensive during the summer of 2009 when the Pakistani military pushed forward into erstwhile militant strongholds.The statement said that the second project would focus on reconstructing the Peshawar Ring Road “which passes through rural areas, by adding a third truck lane, constructing a four kilometer bypass of the Hayatabad residential area, and linking the road to the Matani bypass road that the United States is currently supporting.”The Secretaries noted that the Peshawar Ring Road is now the main route for “heavy trucks and trailers traveling through the Torkam Pass, the major trade route to and from Afghanistan.” The important problem that the road improvement project would help resolve is the vulnerability of vehicles to criminal elements along the way due to the severe damage to the road, which slows traffic.
Broader context of U.S. aid to Pakistan
Underscoring Pakistan's importance to the United States and the need to support it with financial aid, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “In Pakistan, our efforts are vital to success in Afghanistan, but also to our own American security. We've made it a strategic priority to strengthen our partnership with the Pakistani people.”
Speaking at the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Ms. Clinton added that based on the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, she was requesting $370 million for assistance and operations to “allow us to expand civilian cooperation at a critical moment.”
However she said she was “under no illusion that success in this arena will come quickly or easily.” Yet there were signs of improvement, including the Pakistani Government's “important offenses in Swat, South Waziristan, and throughout the country,” she explained.
Calling for more humanitarian assistance to avoid the further spread of extremism in these regions, she said success would depend on “rapidly and sustainably scaling up our efforts,” particularly in high-impact projects that visibly demonstrated U.S. long-term commitment to helping the Pakistanis build capacity while ensuring accountability.