Relationship with Pakistan
By Ryan C Crocker
Over the past
five years the United States and Pakistan have built
an extraordinarily close relationship as allies
and strategic partners at the government-to-government
level. But relations between peoples are the cement
that holds together the elements of a strategic
partnership. During my tenure as US ambassador to
Pakistan I have been very interested in promoting
these human and cultural bonds between our two countries.
Nothing better demonstrates the breadth and the
depth of the long-term, strategic partnership between
Pakistan and the United States than the rapid growth
in education programs between our two countries.
Our USAID program has provided over $200 million
to education programs in Pakistan over the last
five years, encouraging student learning in some
of Pakistan's most remote regions by training teachers
in participatory learning, increasing parental involvement
and supporting infrastructure improvements for primary
schools. Regionally, these programs have focused
on Sindh, Balochistan, the FATA and the Islamabad
Capital Territory. Since October 2006, these programs
have been extended to the earthquake-affected areas
of the NWFP and AJK.
These are the best-known examples of the importance
of education in the US-Pakistan partnership. But
there are many more examples. We have developed
a program with Pakistani schools and NGO partners,
called "ACCESS," that encourages non-elite
Pakistani youth to study English. ACCESS provides
micro-scholarships to these students to attend English
Literacy Centers at quality schools in Pakistan.
To date, nearly 1,000 high school students in Lahore,
Multan, Karachi, Peshawar, Islamabad and Gwadar
have studied under the ACCESS program. And we are
now looking to extend this program to provide opportunities
for ACCESS graduates to attend universities in Pakistan.
The "YES" -- Youth Exchange and Study
-- program, funded in part by the US State Department
and managed in Pakistan by the Karachi-based International
Education and Resource Network, takes Pakistani
students on year-long foreign exchange programs
in the United States during their high school years.
As many as 158 Pakistani high school students have
participated in the YES program since it began in
Another State Department program has partnered with
Pakistan's National Education Foundation and Eastern
Washington University to provide in-service teacher
training for 400 female teachers in the FATA. The
FATA Female Teacher Training program also provides
micro-loans to parents of young girls to encourage
families to keep their daughters in school. This
program is benefiting some 300 schools in the FATA
Academic linkages between Pakistani and American
institutions have been important since the beginning
of the US-Pakistan relationship. The Institute for
Business Administration in Karachi, one of Pakistan's
leading institutions of higher education, was founded
in 1955 with technical assistance from the Wharton
School of the University of Pennsylvania. Today,
the US Department of Agriculture provides major
funding support for agricultural and forestry programs
at the University of Faisalabad, the University
of Peshawar and the Pakistan Forest Institute.
Nothing better demonstrates the deepening relationship
between Pakistan and the United States than the
recent, rapid growth in academic exchanges. When
I arrived in Pakistan in 2004, about a dozen Pakistani
students were studying in the US on Fulbright scholarships.
Today there are over 200, with 150 new Pakistani
participants in the Fulbright program each year.
The Pakistan Fulbright program is now the largest
Fulbright program in the world. It has active Pakistani
participation on its board of directors and its
executive staff. Pakistani funding also makes an
important contribution to the Fulbright program
in Pakistan. In the coming academic year we expect
to re-initiate the reciprocal part of the Fulbright
program by bringing American senior scholars to
In the last six months we have seen many more American
scholars travel to Pakistan. The US embassy has
encouraged this growing interchange between American
and Pakistani scholars and researchers. All of us
involved were particularly pleased that the American
Institute of Pakistan Studies held its annual scholarly
convention this year in Islamabad.
The need to encourage people-to-people relationships
led us to undertake another important initiative.
The embassy's consular staff has worked very hard
to streamline the visa process to encourage Pakistanis
to travel to the United States. We've made remarkable
progress. Visa issuance was 30 per cent greater
in 2006 than in 2005, including an increase of 55
per cent for issuance of student visas. The numbers
of Pakistani visitors to the United States are now
returning to pre-9/11 levels.
These are strong examples of deeper and stronger
ties between the American and Pakistani people.
As I take my leave from Pakistan, I take those strengthening
ties as one of my fondest and most important memories
of my tenure as US ambassador to Pakistan.
(The writer has served as US ambassador to Pakistan
since 2004. His present assignment is as American
ambassador to Iraq. Courtesy The News)