<!-- IMAGE -->
The United States has elevated the role of diplomacy and development alongside defense in its national security strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. "Our civilian engagement in Afghanistan and Pakistan," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "will endure long after our combat troops come home."
The challenges in both countries are immense. The Afghan government is under assault from the Taliban and struggling to provide security, jobs, and basic justice to a society devastated by thirty years of war. Across the border, the Pakistani people are victims of regular suicide bombings despite their military’s increasingly determined efforts against Islamic extremists. And while al-Qaida’s safe-haven in the Afghanistan/Pakistan border area is increasingly disrupted, its senior leaders are still planning attacks against the U.S. and its allies.
In Afghanistan, the U.S. focus is on building the capacity of Afghan institutions to withstand and diminish the threat posed by Islamic extremism, and to deliver high-impact economic assistance, especially in the agricultural sector to reduce the funding that the Taliban receives from poppy cultivation. At the same time, the U.S. is strongly encouraging the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai to take strong measures to combat corruption and improve governance. This will lead to better services for the people of Afghanistan.
Pakistan is a strategic partner and critical to achieving success in Afghanistan. The U.S. is leading the international community in helping Pakistan overcome the political, economic, and security challenges that threaten its stability. "We seek to build a long-term partnership with Pakistan based on common interests," said Secretary Clinton, "including recognition that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear."
In particular, the United States is focused on using its civilian assistance in Pakistan to help address areas most immediately affecting the Pakistani people, energy, water, and related economic crises. The aid will support broader economic and democratic reforms, and help Pakistan to eliminate extremist sanctuaries.
This strategy offers the best prospect for stabilizing Afghanistan and Pakistan and ultimately creating a lasting peace in the region.