Speaking at the National Endowment for Democracy’s Pakistan Forum, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said that for decades the U.S. "did not have a relationship with Pakistan that took in the whole panorama of our policy priorities." As a result, he said, "our relationship with this important country has not been as strategic as it could have been, and it has been prone to being easily disrupted." That needs to change he said:
"I believe it is necessary to build a comprehensive partnership not only with the Pakistani government but with the Pakistani people. We recognize that our fate – that is, our security, our freedom, and prosperity – is linked to the fate of the people of Pakistan, and that enabling the Pakistani government to control its territory and to govern its people justly and humanely is a national security imperative for the United States, an essential condition for success in Afghanistan, as well as the right thing to do."
Pakistan’s transition to democracy, said Mr. Negroponte, is an opportunity to forge an enduring partnership "between our two peoples":
"Despite the tragic assassinations of Benazir Bhutto and other innocent people by irreconcilable elements, Pakistanis courageously rejected violent extremists in favor of moderate, democratic political forces committed to economic development and rule of law. Together with those forces, we must pursue two overarching goals: first, the success of Pakistan’s transition to a stable, democratic Muslim state; and secondly, the empowerment of Pakistan’s government with the resources, capabilities, and the will to prevail against violent extremists."
"On February 18th, the Pakistani people expressed a clear vision for what they want their nation to look like: responsible, democratic, grounded in rule of law, with institutions that provide good governance and the basic necessities of life to all of its citizens," said deputy Secretary Negroponte. He also stressed the need for Pakistan to deal with terrorists operating from its border regions:
"Let me be clear: we will not be satisfied until all the violent extremism emanating from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas is brought under control. It is unacceptable for extremists to use those areas to plan, train for, or execute attacks against Afghanistan, Pakistan, or the wider world."
The U.S., said Deputy Secretary Negroponte, "will help Pakistan protect and defend its democracy against extremists."