I have made it a top priority to elevate the role of diplomacy and development alongside defense in our national security strategy. Nowhere is this more urgent than in our efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. To meet this core goal, President Obama has outlined a strategy that includes supporting the Afghan and Pakistani Governments’ efforts to defeat the extremist threat. As President Obama made clear at West Point on December 1, our civilian engagement in Afghanistan and Pakistan will endure long after our combat troops come home. While our military mission in Afghanistan is not open-ended, we are committed to building lasting partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan.
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 30 years of war. Across the border, the Pakistani people are victim to regular suicide bombings despite their military’s increasingly determined efforts against extremist elements. And while al-Qaeda’s safe-haven in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area is increasingly disrupted, its senior leaders are still planning attacks against our homeland and our Allies.
We shaped our political, economic, and diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan with these realities in mind. Far from an exercise in “nation-building,” the programs detailed here aim to achieve realistic progress in critical areas. They are aligned with our security objectives and have been developed in close consultation with the Afghan and Pakistani Governments, as well as our international partners. When combined with U.S. combat operations and efforts to build Afghan and Pakistani security capacity, these programs constitute an innovative, whole-of-government strategy to protect our vital interests in this volatile region of the world.
We have no illusions about the challenges ahead of us. Achieving progress will require continued sacrifice not only by our military personnel, but also by the more than 1,500 U.S. Government civilians serving in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But for the first time since this conflict began, we have a true whole-of-government approach. The Afghan and Pakistani Governments have endorsed this strategy and are committed to achieving our shared objectives. And as I was reminded during recent visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan, our civilian and military personnel are working together as never before.
For these reasons, I believe this strategy offers the best prospect for stabilizing Afghanistan and Pakistan. I look forward to working with Congress to secure the non-military resources needed to achieve our mission and to signal our commitment to Afghanistan and Pakistan. I am committed to doing everything possible to ensure that those resources are well spent advancing our national interests.
The Afghanistan and Pakistan Regional Stabilization Strategy is available at the following link: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/135728.pdf