We are delighted to introduce a new feature on the State Department’s DipNote Blog that will focus on our whole of government efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. With an integrated team from 10 U.S. Government agencies, the State Department is moving forward right now with the President’s new civilian and military strategy for Afghanistan and with our strategic partnership with Pakistan.
Our objectives are clear. As the President reminded us all in his West Point speech, America was attacked on September 11th from this region, and the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan remain the epicenter of global terrorism. The President reminded the American people and the world that we still have the same goal we’ve had since he took office: We must deny Al-Qaeda safe haven and ensure that it cannot operate from either Afghanistan or Pakistan.
In Afghanistan, we must reverse the Taliban’s momentum and weaken their capabilities as we build up Afghanistan’s ability to defend itself. Our aim is to weaken the insurgency enough that international combat forces can leave and Afghans can take the lead in their own security while improving the lives of the Afghan people. In Pakistan, we must continue to support Pakistanis as they lead their fight against extremism and strive to meet the pressing needs of the Pakistani people. We will forge a long-term strategic partnership with Pakistan based on common interests, including a determination to eliminate safe haven for terrorists.
Our military commitment in Afghanistan is not open-ended, but we will not abandon Afghanistan. Even as international combat forces hand over to Afghan security forces, we will continue to partner with the Afghan Army and Police. The civilian development assistance that is so important – building up agriculture, helping with rule of law, the role of women, education, health – must and will continue. Our partnership with Pakistan must be enduring, and we will persist in the face of skepticism by building trust over time.
Stability in this region is critical to nations around the world. Our objectives are shared not only by our ISAF partners, but also by Russia, China, India, and Muslim countries across the Middle East, all of which face a common threat from Al-Qaeda. Over the next few months, our interagency team will work with international partners across the globe and in both Afghanistan and Pakistan to make rapid progress.
We will use the new Afghanistan and Pakistan channel on DipNote to delve more deeply into the critical elements of the civilian effort. We hope these postings will lead to a greater dialogue on our efforts to help stabilize the region and ensure that Al-Qaeda is disrupted, dismantled, and defeated in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over the course of the next few months, we look forward to regularly sharing with you some of the activities and stories of the many people committed to our success.