QUETTA: The US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W Patterson, while talking to The Express Tribune on Thursday has said that the US wants to open a “small consulate” in Quetta to supervise development projects in Balochistan.
She was attending a dinner hosted in her honour by Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination, Dr Ruqia Saeed Hashmi. Patterson said that the main objective of her visit was to talk about development projects which were being carried out by the US in Balochistan. “We are thinking how we can increase our presence here,” she said, adding “I have come here to talk with authorities about opening of a small consulate in Quetta to supervise the development activities under USAID.”
She said that the main focus of the US in Balochistan was irrigation, energy and education. Patterson flatly rejected reports of pressure being applied by the US on Pakistan for launching military operations in North Waziristan. “Let me clear up this issue. This was a mistake made by the media. We had talked about the cooperation in investigations regarding Shahzad.” Patterson said the US was the biggest donor to Pakistan adding they expected to disburse around $3.6 billion for Pakistan’s assistance.
“This is a significant assistance,” she said. Patterson stressed the need for financial reforms in Pakistan besides increasing its tax net. During her visit, Patterson met with CM Aslam Raisani, Speaker Balochistan Assembly Muhammad Aslam Bhotani, Corps Commander Southern Command Lt General Javed Zia and IGP Balochistan. Officials said that supplies for Nato troops through Balochistan amongst other matters were discussed in the meetings.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 14th, 2010.