- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Pakistan corruption

Pakistan is losing foreign investment because of official corruption and weak courts that fail to enforce business contracts, says the U.S. ambassador to the South Asian nation.

Ambassador Nancy J. Powell told a recent anticorruption conference that foreign money is invested more in other parts of Asia as Pakistan falls short of its “obvious potential.”

She added that the “security situation” — a reference to crime and terrorism — scares away some investors, but most complain about the poor business climate.

“Foreign direct investment flows into Pakistan have fallen far short of Pakistan’s obvious potential. The result is lower levels of job creation and overall slower economic growth,” she told the Conference on Combating Corruption in the Public and Private Sectors.

“There is a growing sense among potential U.S. investors that foreign companies cannot count on timely and fair resolution of contractual disputes when they arise with Pakistani firms.”

Miss Powell cited the example of one U.S. firm whose case against its former Pakistani partner in a contract dispute has been tied up in the courts for more than five years, despite an international arbitration ruling in its favor.

“Word that international arbitration decisions are not respected in Pakistan and that court proceedings can drag on excessively spreads quickly through the international business community,” the ambassador said.

“The result is that Pakistan’s reputation as a solid and reliable partner for investment suffers and capital moves elsewhere.”

Miss Powell also noted that corruption discouraged international donors of humanitarian assistance and described a new U.S. program to track American aid.

She said the U.S. Agency for International Development will be opening an Internet site that will list all aid programs for Pakistan.

“We will inform the public about the programs we are funding and the results we expect to achieve,” the ambassador said, explaining that most U.S. aid is given to private humanitarian groups.

“When, however, we do disburse funds directly to the government, we will report … how much money was provided to the government, the purpose for the funds and, most important, how the government spends the funds.”

Kuwaiti plans visit

Kuwait’s prime minister plans to visit President Bush next month to strengthen ties between the United States and one of Washington’s closest allies in the Persian Gulf region.

Sheik Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah will begin his three-day visit to Washington on Sept. 9.

He will lead a “high-level delegation” on the trip aimed at “boosting bilateral ties and joint cooperation between the two friendly countries,” the official Kuwait News Agency reported. The agency did not list the other members of the delegation.

Kuwaiti officials frequently express their appreciation to the United States for liberating their country from the brutal occupation under Saddam Hussein in 1991. Kuwait reciprocated this year by providing the United States with the main staging area for the invasion of Iraq.

Bush picks Barclay

President Bush selected a Republican colleague and New York lawyer to serve as ambassador to El Salvador.

Hugh Douglas Barclay, a former Republican member of the New York State Senate, is a partner in the law firm of Hiscock and Barclay.

He was in the state Senate from 1965 to 1984 and served as chairman of the Codes Committee, the Select Task Force on Court Reorganization and the Senate Republican Conference.

Pritchard at Brookings

Ambassador Charles L. Pritchard, who resigned last week as a top aide to President Bush on North Korean issues, will join the Brookings Institution Tuesday as a visiting fellow in the foreign policy studies program.

Mr. Pritchard cited “personal reasons” for his resignation, but reports said he undermined Undersecretary of State John Bolton, who had warned North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. Mr. Pritchard was an Asia specialist on the National Security Council under President Clinton.

“He will be a great addition to our program and will provide valuable insight into the region,” said Brookings Vice President James B. Steinberg.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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