U.S. Under Secretary for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy Richard Stengel and Minister of Planning, Development, and Reform Ahsan Iqbal convened the inaugural meeting of the Education, Science, and Technology Working Group under the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue at the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform in Islamabad. U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard G. Olson and other senior U.S. officials also participated in the bi-lateral talks, which focused on advancing cooperation, partnerships, and exchanges in higher education, science, and technology.
“Secretary Kerry has always emphasized that our relationship with Pakistan is not just about the threats we face. Our partnership is about building a deeper, broader, and more long-term engagement with the people of Pakistan. The Pakistan of tomorrow must be a safe and secure society, free of extremism; a strong democracy responsive to the needs of its people; a growing economy that creates jobs and trade opportunities and increased educational opportunities for all,” said Under Secretary Stengel in his opening remarks.
The Education, Science, and Technology Working Group is the sixth and newest working group under the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue. At the inaugural meeting, Undersecretary Stengel stressed the importance of these key areas to the bilateral relationship. U.S.-Pakistan engagement in this sector is substantial, 19 partnerships already in place between U.S. and Pakistan universities and more U.S. funding going to exchange programs with Pakistan than any other country in the world. The delegations discussed ways to build sustainability into ongoing university linkages and extend the benefits to universities across Pakistan. The U.S. delegation highlighted educational cooperation and exchange programs that support Pakistan’s development goals. The Working Group also strategized ways to connect higher education and science and technology research with the private sector to promote innovation, trade and investment, including strengthening intellectual property rights and building public-private partnerships.
The U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue is the diplomatic framework for sustained engagement between the United States and Pakistan representing the broad-based nature of the relationship. There are six working groups that further the bilateral relationship in areas of joint interest: Education, Science, and Technology; Energy; Economics and Finance; Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism; Strategic Security, Strategic Stability and Non-proliferation; and the Defense Consultative Group.