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Pakistan Caucus Breakfast Briefing on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON April 21,2005: The Congressional Pakistan Caucus held a briefing with Ambassador of Pakistan Jehangir Karamat on Capitol Hill on Thursday. The briefing was chaired by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, co-chair of the Caucus, and the closing remarks were made by Faiz Rehman, Executive Director of the Pakistani American Liaison Center (PALC). The briefing was attended by several members of Congress and their staffers.

Welcoming her colleagues and the ambassador, Rep. Jackson Lee said: “We all know that Pakistan has been a true partner in the War on Terror, helping to remove much of the Taliban and Al Qaeda’s influence in Afghanistan.” She hoped that the members of Congress would recognize “the important steps Pakistan is taking to better position itself for the future as well as to insure regional stability.”

She congratulated the leadership of PALC in helping establish and build the Congressional Pakistan Caucus, saying, “the Congressional Pakistan Caucus will continue to advocate for the nation of Pakistan as a means to fulfill the foreign policy interests of the United States. She said a strong Pakistan in a stable South Asia can only yield positive results for our nation. “We must work together as a Caucus along with other Members of Congress to continue the positive developments we have witnessed.”

The congresswoman paid tribute to Ambassador Karamat and the leadership of President Pervez Musharraf. She said: “Ambassador Karamat is an outstanding representative of the Pakistan government at a very exciting time for US-Pakistan relations. The nation of Pakistan under the leadership of President Pervez Musharraf is moving in a positive direction.”

Commenting on education reforms in Pakistan, Rep. Jackson Lee said: “Chief among the reforms undertaken by President Musharraf has been that of the educational system, which previously was not allowing Pakistani children to reach their full potential.”

She said that investing in education was the best way for Pakistan to achieve prosperity for all its citizens. “In fact, it was the father of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah who said ‘Character, courage, industry and perseverance are the four pillars on which the whole edifice of human life can be built, and failure is a word unknown to me.’ It is that spirit which I believe is guiding these necessary reforms for the children of Pakistan.”

Ambassador Jehangir Karamat highlighted Pakistan-U.S. relations saying the establishment of Pakistan Caucus in U.S. Congress is "deepening and strengthening relations between the two countries."

Ambassador Karamat said relations with the United States are "deeper and broader" with large U.S. investments in Pakistan's social sector.

He paid tribute to PALC saying that the organization is "an important partner on Capitol Hill."

Mentioning the joint statement released in New Delhi by India and Pakistan, he said it would "set the future direction" of the Pakistan-India relations in various fields, including trade between the two countries.

Reflecting an upbeat mood in Congress about the ongoing peace process between Pakistan and India, the Ambassador said the bilateral relations are "moving toward harmony" to reach the economic potential of the region.

He also highlighted the "economic turnaround" in Pakistan, saying that the numbers are very positive. He said Pakistan will reach a growth rate of 8% next year with the deficit going down.

About democracy in Pakistan, the Ambassador said Pakistan has an elected government and it was preparing a level playing field for the elections in 2007.

"Important political negotiations" with political groups, he stated "are going on, to strengthen the democratic process in the country.

Ambassador Karamat took questions from the members of Congress present at the briefing.

At the briefing, Congressman Kenny Marchant announced his decision to join the Congressional Pakistan Caucus.

In his closing remarks, Faiz Rehman, Executive Director of the Pakistani American Liaison Center (PALC), thanked the members of Congress for attending the briefing and said that PALC would help host similar briefings more often on the Hill. Rehman thanked Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee for her remarkable leadership in establishing the Pakistan Caucus and remaining deeply involved in its activities.

Pakistani American Liaison Center is a Washington-based public education group.

April, 2005


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