Washington has accelerated negotiations with Islamabad for signing of a ‘liberal’ as well as ‘holistic’ bilateral investment treaty (BIT) to boost existing $5 billions’ two-way trade. Senior negotiating officials are currently in Islamabad holding meetings with not just the counterparts but also with other local stakeholders including the investors, traders, and the media. According to the visiting officials who gave a background briefing to a select group of journalists, neither the negotiations on the bid were final, nor were they facing any major impediments. They insisted that it would be unfair to write that the BIT signing was hitting the snags.Asked whether the BIT would cover the defense sector as such, the officials hoodwinked the question saying “we are up to negotiate and sign a treaty with a holistic approach. And it is too early to decide about these specifics. So to say the agreement would cover entire of the services as well as manufacturing sectors.”The US negotiators were of the view that the treaty would provide independence to the American investors to appoint the Board of Governors of their companies here independent of any restrictions. They were asked with reference to sensitive agencies’ No Objection Certificate (NOC) required for persons to be appointed as members of foreign companies’ BoGs. “In general terms, under the treaty, there would be no restriction on any country’s national to be members of an American investor’s BoG,” one of the officials said. They were unable to answer the question of an Israeli being on an American company’s BoG while Pakistan has not yet recognized Israeli as a country. “We understand that the foreign investor would be independent in appointment of respective BoGs,” they insisted.Prime salient feature of the BIT draft is transparency. There would be clauses requiring both the parties to go for fullest possible disclosure of the information of public interest. “There are pre-publication obligations and publication obligations in the treaty draft,” the officials said. “But we cannot get into the specific substance of the draft agreement,” they added.According to the visiting US officials, the two sides would also put in place pre-requisite regulatory regimes with reference to the foreign investment wherever they were missing. “The final decision would lie with the regulators in both the countries,” they maintained.Not that straight answer to the questions on planned Regional Opportunity Zones (ROZs), which the US once had promised to support build in the militancy-hit tribal regions, was that it “was a tough box”. In so many words the officials aided by the US Embassy staff indicated that the ROZs were no longer an active project on the Americans’ priorities.