LAHORE - Justifying expansion in the American Embassy in Islamabad and its consulates in other cities, Principal Officer US Consulate Lahore, Carmela Conroy said on Friday that it had become necessary to ensure that American aid to Pakistan was being effectively utilised for the purpose it had been granted.
Addressing media persons at a dinner she hosted in their honour at a local hotel, the American diplomat said the US Embassy and its constituent posts, including Consulate Lahore, were growing to help carry out President Obamas promise of engagement, and to assist in reporting to the Congress on how American taxpayers contributions were being used in Pakistan.
Commenting on the much talked about issue of US Marines presence in Islamabad, she told journalist, though in lighter vein, that according to her information, they were not landing in Lahore at least.
I can also tell you for the record, however, that I have seen no plans to bring US Marines to the Lahore Consulate, said Conroy, adding, We are all excited by the possibilities for engagement that our new positions make possible.
On Kerry-Lugar Bill, she was of the view that the US aid under the said legislation would be utilised to build the infrastructure, the schools, the roads and the hospitals needed to strengthen Pakistans democracy and provide opportunities to its people.
The Kerry-Lugar Bill is intended to supplement, not supplant, the government of Pakistans own efforts in ensuring a stable, secure, and prosperous Pakistan, she added.
She believed that the legislation would lead to a new era of engagement between the two countries.
Calling it as an Enhanced Partnership Act with Pakistan of 2009, she said the bill, cosponsored by Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar, will authorise $1 .5 billion in support to the Pakistani people every year over the next five years, with an option to renew the support for an additional five years.
The US Senate just passed the Kerry/Lugar Bill, and the administration is working hard to obtain passage by the House of Representatives in the very near future, she further informed.
Citing President Obamas recent remarks to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, she said, We must embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and our work must begin now.
She said President Obama also talked at the UN about the need to combat violent extremists. She quoted Obama as having said, We will stand by our friends on the front lines, as we and many nations will do in pledging support for the Pakistani people tomorrow. And we will pursue positive engagement that builds bridges among faiths and new partnerships of opportunity.
She said the US government had added a political officer and an economic officer at Lahore Consulate to assist her in talking with Punjabis and communicating their views to the Embassy and to Washington.
We have acquired an assistant public affairs officer, Linda Blount, to ensure our accessibility and broader our outreach. Weve added support staff as well, and expect to welcome soon more staff from the United States for International Development (USAID), she elaborated expansion of staff at Lahore Consulate.
She viewed early passage of the Kerry-Lugar Bill into law, and its subsequent implementation; and the growth at Consulate Lahore as tangible signs of Americas support for a prosperous, stable, democratic Pakistan.