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US pledges support for Pakistan’s “transformational” Diamer Basha Dam project

US pledges support for Pakistan’s “transformational” Diamer Basha Dam project

WASHINGTON, Oct 8 (APP): The United States on Wednesday pledged support for Pakistan’s massive $ 14 billion 4500-MW Diamer Basha Dam project, as top officials and private business leaders explored investment prospects amid lingering energy challenges facing America’s “critical partner” nation.

Both the U.S. officials including USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah and U.S. Special Representative Dan Feldman and Pakistan’s Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar and Water and Minister for Water, Power and Defense Khawaja Muhammad Asif highlighted tremendous opportunities for American and international investors in the “transformational” power generation and water storage project.

The officials spoke at a joint platform that brought together senior leaders and experts and business leaders at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, co-hosted by the US Agency for International Development and the US-Pakistan Business Council.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani and U.S. Ambassador in Islamabad Richard Olson participated in the daylong conference spread over several sessions.

Pakistan needs 10 thousand MW of power to meet its exponentially growing domestic, industrial and agrarian requirements. The materialization of Diamer Basha Dam will be a giant step in that quest. Besides producing 4500 MW of power, the Dam will help with four million acre of water irrigation, save millions from flash flooding, boost other hydro projects and contribute vitally to extending life of Tarbela Dam by 30 years.

The Obama Administration officials assured the investors of effective results, citing results from U.S.-financed energy up-gradation projects.

“We know that success can take hold,” Dr. Shah said in reference to completion of U.S. financed small projects and addition to power generation capacity of large dams, which have brought 1400 MW of power to the national system.

Daniel Feldman said the U.S. and Pakistan have a wide-ranging strategic partnership and that Washington is in for a long-term economic and investment relationship with Pakistan, particularly in the energy field.

“Investment in the Diamer Basha Dam is the smartest choice for Pakistan,” Feldman remarked, reiterating the White House and Secretary John Kerry’s commitment to backing for economic and energy security of Pakistan.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government is committed to encouraging foreign investment into various sectors of the economy and is crystal clear that the country needs both the Dasu and Basha dams.

“We have demonstrated our commitment — and acquired land from own indigenous resources.”

He said the government’s resolve to bolster the national economy is evident from a series of macro-economic positive indicators that Islamabad has achieved in a short period of time and that building the Diamer Basha Dam is one of the top national priorities.

He apprised the gathering of experts and investors of the government’s robust economic agenda, saying Islamabad has stemmed the economic downslide it inherited and now exports, GDP rate, remittances, revenue collection and industrial growth have all registered marked growth. Despite demonstrations in Islamabad the rupee has been fairly staying at stable exchange rate, while inflation has also been checked.

Senator Dar said the government has paid off circular debt it had inherited from the previous administration and also expanded development spending to Rs 525 billion.

Minister for Water, Power and Defense Khawaja Asif said Washington’s support for the vital Diamer Basha Dam will cement the relationship between the two countries.

Pakistan believes it can best cope with energy shortages through with hydro power projects, he said, adding it provides inexpensive power to users.

He drew attention to the lucrative and enormous investment opportunities that Pakistan’s energy sector offers with the promise of healthy returns.

Asif reaffirmed Islamabad’s commitment to offering one window operation to investors.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani hailed the tremendous response to the conference, which drew participation of 160 experts and investors.

“This shows support for Pakistan’s serious commitment to energy projects — and this is the second instance that support for Islamabad’s energy generations programs has emanated from Washington, following World Bank and U.S. backing for the Dasu project,” Ambassador Jilani said in an interaction with the media.

Ambassador Jilani said the security has improved vastly in Pakistan and investors have not raised any concerns on this count.

Islamabad, he said, is working within letter and spirit of Indus Water Treaty and saw no reason for any Indian objection to the construction of Diamer Basha Dam.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson said the meeting on Diamer Basha dam has generated enthusiasm and interest among investors. Pakistan has been on the path of democratization for the last side years and the rule of law sends an important message to investors.

October 08, 2014
Washington, DC

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