WASHINGTON: Acknowledging Pakistan's vital importance to regional stability and US national security interests, former US Senator Richard Lugar has called for sustained American support for the South Asian country's efforts towards economic development and security.
The Republican leader, who co-authored the $ 7.5 billion Kerry-Lugar-Berman Pakistan aid bill with his Democratic colleagues including the then senator John Kerry, was speaking at an event marking Pakistan's Independence Day during the annual convention of Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America.
While firmly opposing the notion of US disengagement with Pakistan, he said the future development assistance to Pakistan should be provided in the spirit of Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill.
"Our goals should focus on promoting Pakistani stability and strengthening the effectiveness of Pakistani civilian society," Lugar, a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, added.
Lugar, who now heads The Lugar Center, exploring solutions to global problems like energy, food and security, explained that Pakistan is central to fighting off terrorism challenge in the region, strengthening stability in Afghanistan and maintaining peace in South Asia.
He also urged the US policy on Pakistan should proceed in a bipartisan spirit.
"Even as US foreign policy leaders contemplate how to improve bilateral relations with Pakistan, we must examine our own policymaking process, which frequently ranges into dysfunction and destructive partisanship," he said, citing challenges posed by strident political conflict to the conduct of American foreign policy.
Lugar particularly referred to encouragement for devotion to democratic principles, pluralism, stability and peace in Pakistan.
"Ultimately, Pakistan's future will be determined by the Pakistanis," he stated, while applauding APPNA's role towards boosting US-Pakistan relationship.