The United States can help transform South and Central Asia—with nearly a quarter of the world's population—into a more democratic and economically vibrant region. However, it is home to some very real and immediate global threats—proliferation of WMD, Islamic extremism, terrorism, narcotics production and pandemics—which, along with poverty, illiteracy, and corrupt institutions, severely constrain its capacity to realize its full potential. The Department of State and USAID will work with interagency and international partners to: help build regional stability by countering terrorism and narcotics production and resolving conflict; deny proliferation routes through the region; promote regional integration through energy, infrastructure, trade, and communication projects; strengthen democracy and good governance; and create healthy, better educated, and more prosperous populations.
Afghanistan: In Afghanistan, the U.S. Government, with the enhanced support of NATO, will work to bring stability by enhancing the effectiveness and reach of the elected government. This will require extensive capacity building in the Afghan Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior. A capable Afghan National Army will provide increased security, and a trained and well-equipped Afghan National Police will fairly enforce the country's laws, thus earning the confidence of the Afghan people.
Working with the Government of Afghanistan and international partners, the U.S. Government will combat opium production and trafficking. This will entail eradicating poppy fields and prosecuting and jailing traffickers and those promoting the illicit drug economy. To ensure that rural incomes remain adequate without opium, the U.S. Government will promote alternative income sources, such as high value horticulture and rural small enterprises, and promote economic growth. (Strategic Goal Linkages: 1, 2, 3, and others)
Pakistan/Afghanistan Border Region: The Pakistan/Afghanistan border is a terrorist haven. To combat this, the U.S. Government supports the Pakistani President's strategy for economic and social development in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas—the first concerted effort to extend central government control over this remote and traditionally ungovernable region. Increased economic development and access to education, health and other government services should more fully integrate these areas. The U.S. Government also will promote Regional Opportunity Zones in this area. (Strategic Goal Linkages: 1, 2, 4, and others)
Counterterrorism and Counter-Narcotics Capacities: South and Central Asia are key to the war against Islamic extremism and narcotics trafficking, which fuels insurgencies, destroys local economies, and corrupts governments. The United States must win the struggle in Afghanistan and Pakistan, limit the spread of instability into countries such as Bangladesh, and reverse the spread of extremism in Central Asia. In Pakistan, the U.S. Government will work to increase security, modernize its military, and extend the reach of the government into frontier and border regions. In Central Asia, the U.S. Government will assist the armed forces of key allies to promote interoperability, professionalism, and exposure to democratic values. In Sri Lanka and Nepal, we will promote interoperability with U.S. forces, respect for human rights, and capacity building to address insurgent threats. (Strategic Goal Linkages: 1 and others)
Conflict Resolution Efforts: The situation in Sri Lanka continues to deteriorate with increased conflict between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In Nepal, negotiations intended to establish sustained peace and democracy will likely continue in 2007. In both these countries, where appropriate, the U.S. Government will work to help resolve the conflicts with impartial reconciliation and mediation expertise, and provide post-conflict support, such as disarmament and demobilization. (Strategic Goal Linkages: 1, 2, and others)
Democratic and Economic Reform: India excluded, democracy is in difficult straits in the region. Afghanistan has chosen the democratic path but needs assistance in extending institutions of good governance, rule of law, and civil society beyond the capital. In Pakistan, we will intensify our efforts to foster full democracy by building political parties, local governance, and civil society capabilities, and strengthening the Electoral Commission. Current events in Nepal offer great, yet delicate democratic potential. Bangladesh requires a more solid foundation in good governance. In Central Asia, where Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan present the most significant challenges, we will support the establishment of accountable and transparent government that is responsible for and responsive to an informed civil society.
It is essential to the stability of the region that countries develop thriving, private-sector led economies to provide jobs and income to their populations. Pakistan and India are both growing at more than eight percent per year, though many still live in poverty. After decades of war, Afghanistan lacks a functioning basic infrastructure. Among the countries of Central Asia, the U.S. priority is to increase regional trade and economic diversity. To encourage regional integration, we will use our convening power to break diplomatic logjams, provide technical assistance to create regional energy markets, and facilitate trade. (Strategic Goal Linkages: 1, 2, 4, and others)
Education: Education, particularly of women and girls, is fundamental to improving social development in all areas. Lack of literacy constrains economic development and stability, particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will continue to support quality basic education across the region and will find innovative ways to work in the tribal regions of Pakistan. In Central Asia, we will seek to increase student exchange, especially for Uzbek and Turkmen youth. (Strategic Goal Linkages: 3 and others)
Health and Humanitarian Assistance: In South Asia, too-rapid population growth is a concern, together with high rates of infant and maternal mortality. U.S. programs provide training, funding for vaccination campaigns, medical supplies, and assistance to Ministries of Health. In Central Asia, we support systemic reforms, emphasizing a preventative, primary health care focus, broader system financing, and accreditation. Region-wide, the U.S. Government will continue to provide assistance to combat pandemics such as HIV/AIDS and other emerging diseases, such as avian influenza. We will help the countries in the region develop their capacity to cope with disasters and will provide help through food aid, immediate disaster assistance, and reconstruction. Further, U.S. assistance to refugee populations and conflict victims in the region will continue as we seek durable solutions to end their displacement. (Strategic Goal Linkages: 3, 5, and others)
|Countries Comprising the South and Central Asia Region|
The following countries are in the South and Central Asia region: