US not to stop negative travel advisories on Pak

Himalayan News Service

Islamabad, April 16:

The US government has refused to stop issuing negative travel advisories for its citizens unless Pakistan improves the law and order situation and removes political instability in the country. The Bush administration has also asked Islamabad to effectively enforce an intellectual property rights regime before expecting sizable American investment in Pakistan.

"There has been quite a bit of interaction recently between senior Pakistani officials and the US authorities during which issues concerning low American investment came up for discussion," Dawn reported today.

"Pakistan was advised by the US officials to ensure rule of law so that American citizens could travel to Pakistan without any fear or hesitation. "They (the Americans) have genuine concerns which need to be adequately addressed to expect new American investment in our part of the world," the newspaper quoted an official, who recently held a number of meetings with the US officials in Islamabad and Washington, as saying. According to him, the Bush administration often cited examples of pirated books and CDs flooding the Pakistani markets but no action had been taken against the culprits. The official said the request to the US government to issue "positive travel advisories for its citizens" had not been accepted.

"We were told to address issues concerning law and order, political instability, rule of law and the enforcement of intellectual property rights," he said.

Another official source, when contacted, said foreign direct investment (FDI) was not increasing and continued to be less than the level achieved during previous years due to an "image problem". "We had received a maximum $1.1 billion FDI in 1995-96 due to the arrival of independent power producers. In subsequent years, the flow of foreign investment continued to go down due to various reasons, including the worsening law and order situation," the source said. Pakistan attracted about $600 million foreign investment last year. During the same period, India attracted much higher FDI. "Those who initially come here for investment often (end up in the) Middle East because of not receiving timely infrastructure facilities. Also, tariffs for utilities like electricity, were higher compared to other countries of the region," Dawn quoted an official as saying.