The United States' policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan has yielded a number of successes, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Usama bin Laden and many of his top lieutenants are dead, and Al-Qa'ida's ability to conduct operations has been greatly diminished. At the same time, coalition and Afghan forces "have reversed the Taliban momentum in key areas. Afghan security forces have a long way to go, but they are taking more responsibility every day," she said.
Today, the United States is pursuing a three-track, mutually reinforcing strategy of fight, talk, and build in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
First, the fight. Coalition and Afghan forces have increased pressure on the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and other insurgents. But Taliban safe havens across the border in Pakistan must also be eliminated, something which would benefit Pakistan as well as Afghanistan. "Over the past decade, more than 5,000 Pakistani soldiers have been lost, and tens of thousands of Pakistani citizens have been killed or injured," said Secretary Clinton. "That’s why we are pursuing a vision of shared security that benefits us all."
The second track is talking, or, in this case, reconciliation negotiations, an Afghan-led peace initiative which would reintegrate into society Taliban fighters who renounce violence, abandon al-Qaida, and abide by the laws and constitution of Afghanistan, including its protections for women and minorities.
The third track is building capacity and opportunity in Afghanistan, Pakistan and across the region. Because people need a realistic hope for a better lives and a chance to provide for their families, lasting stability and security go hand in hand with greater economic opportunity. We are working to achieve greater agricultural productivity and greater exploitation of natural resources conducted in a way that most benefits the people. We are also working to increase exports and strengthen the financial sector. These are part of a broader initiative for regional economic integration which we call the New Silk Road vision.
As Secretary Clinton said, we believe that this three-track strategy – fight, talk, and build – done simultaneously and in close cooperation with Afghanistan and Pakistan, is the best way to move forward.