ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry has welcomed the announcement of United States to resume stalled strategic dialogue with Pakistan and termed it a positive development as it would bring both countries further closer in all areas, especially in trade and economic fields.

Zafar Bakhtawari, President, ICCI said thriving relations between Pakistan and USA are in the best interest of both countries. The Raymond Davis incident, attack on Salala Check Post and Navy SEALs operation in Abbottabad had created strong hiccups in Pak-US smooth relations. But it is good that now both countries have agreed to address problems and revive warm relations, which will create new opportunities for promoting commercial and economic ties.

He also lauded the statement of US Secretary of State John Kerry for long-term and strong relations with Pakistan at all levels. He said energy crisis is the main factor that has slowed down the economic growth in Pakistan and urged that US should enhance cooperation with Pakistan in its efforts aimed at coping with energy problem with special focus on harnessing the cheap energy sources.

He said US has agreed to resume strategic dialogue for faster, deeper, boarder and more comprehensive partnership with Pakistan and if it is really sincere to see a strong Pakistan, US should fully support Pak-Iran gas pipeline project instead of discouraging it as its completion would significantly help in resolving Pakistan’s chronic energy problem.

Zafar Bakhtawari said the construction of $14 billion strategically important Diamer-Bhasha Dam is stuck up due to reluctance of international financiers and US should come forward to contribute positively for its construction as well as use its influence with World Bank to support this vital project. He said Pakistan offers lucrative investment opportunities in different sectors of economy and US should also encourage its investors to explore Pakistan for enhanced investment.

He said US has finalised a civil nuclear deal India and it should also seriously consider cooperating with Pakistan in civil nuclear technology to meet its rising energy needs. US has the latest technology to produce hydro electricity while Pakistan has huge potential to generate hydel power and US should share its technology with Pakistan to fully harness this very cheap and untapped source of energy.

ICCI President appreciated US GSP plus scheme for Pakistan allowing duty-free exports of 3500 Pakistani products to US market. However, he demanded that this scheme should also allow duty free access to Pakistani main textiles products to achieve real benefits from this concession.