Messages to the People of Afghanistan and Pakistan

Posted by Katie Dowd
December 3, 2009
Man Talks on Mobile Phone in Kabul

About the Author: Katie Dowd serves as the New Media Director at the U.S. Department of State.

On Tuesday night the world watched as President Obama laid out his strategy for U.S efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The President spoke to a packed auditorium of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. President Obama spoke of the challenges we face along with the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the region, and the world. He committed the United States to an even greater effort to bring stability to the region, and to secure us all from the threats of violent extremism. As he spoke directly to the people of Afghanistan he said:

"The people of Afghanistan have endured violence for decades. They've been confronted with occupation -- by the Soviet Union, and then by foreign al Qaeda fighters who used Afghan land for their own purposes. So tonight, I want the Afghan people to understand -- America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering. We have no interest in occupying your country. We will support efforts by the Afghan government to open the door to those Taliban who abandon violence and respect the human rights of their fellow citizens. And we will seek a partnership with Afghanistan grounded in mutual respect -- to isolate those who destroy; to strengthen those who build; to hasten the day when our troops will leave; and to forge a lasting friendship in which America is your partner, and never your patron."

He also promised that America will help Pakistanis realize their great potential by being a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity. Building on the President’s message to Afghanis and Pakistanis, Secretary Clinton recorded a short message to the people of Afghanistan and to the people of Pakistan. Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton are committed to sending word to those on the ground in the region that the United States is committed to working with them and that only by working together can we ensure the security, stability and sovereignty of both nations for the lasting future.

In a new effort produced by the State Department, we are working to ensure these messages are delivered to our DipNote audience, and more importantly that they directly reach the people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. With Internet penetration relatively low in the region (around 2% for Afghanistan and 11% for Pakistan), we sought new ways to use technology to share these messages. So we have made messages from President Obama and Secretary Clinton available online and also for download directly from your mobile phone. To make sure the people the message reaches more of the people in the region, we have dubbed them in Dari, Pashto, Urdu and Arabic.

Building on the lessons of 21st century statecraft, we are aiming to continually listen, learn and engage people around the world. It is our hope that we can continually leverage new tools and technology to reach and engage people whether they are 10 or 10,000 miles away. We welcome your feedback on these efforts and your comments, and we hope that we can continue this conversation with all of you.

To download the Secretary and President’s message from your mobile phone please visit:

You can view the President’s message in the following languages: Arabic | Dari | English | Pashto | Urdu

Click here to see Secretary Clinton’s message to the people of Afghanistan.

Click here to see Secretary Clinton’s message to the people of Pakistan.



New York, USA
December 27, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Af-Pak Realities:

Afghanistan is still a Narco-State, where all natural resources are in the hands of Karzai and his Governing Warlords. The average Afghani is an indentured servant in a feudal system. Corruption rules and the Rule of Law is the Lawlessness. For many Paks, who are Christians (or non-Muslims), life is full of fear. Even Muslims fear the extreme Taliban. The answer for Af-Pakis is a long way off, but begins with small secured projects where people can make an honest living.

Oregon, USA
December 4, 2009

Joseph in Oregon writes:

I disagree with the President's decision and with the overall strategy presented to the public on Tuesday. There are no good choices in Afghanistan, sending more troops will not resolve the conflict, in fact it will increase animosity against the U.S. and its NATO allies over the long term. Resolving the conflict in Afghanistan is not a military solution.

President Obama in his recent decision is pursuing the wrong strategy for bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

All that corruption and drama over the Afghani elections, where former President Karzai was reinstated as the prime minister and they are criticizing the Iranian elections here from last summer? The Hamid Karzai leadership is a fragile government, its effectiveness is questionable, its sphere of influence is limited -- limited in both the tribal regions of Afghanistan and in the mountainous tribal regions along Pakistan.

The administration should seek an immediate shift in strategy and in policy, from one of war waging in Afghanistan to a political solution, where the emphasis is placed on nation-building and with placing a renewed focus on the reconciliation process for restructuring of Afghani society. Having a perceived timeline to begin withdrawal, is favorable in conveying the urgency with stabilizing this region to the Afghani and Pakistani governments.

The Afghan people view the U.S. presence as an occupation, many civilians have been killed since the beginning of the conflict,the Pakistani people, especially in the tribal regions, view the continuous U.S. sponsored "drone-attacks" as a violation of their nation's sovereignty, consequently, it will be difficult for the U.S. and its allies to gain the support of the local tribal leaders and of the tribal communities. Prime Minister Hamid Karzai, has little influence outside of Kabul, thus, we need to acknowledge the importance with engaging with the tribal leaders in an effort to establish a policy of long-term stability. The U.S. needs to engage in a meaningful dialogue with local tribal leaders and with the Taliban in all provinces, build their trust and place less of an emphasis for a U.S. and NATO long-term troop presence.

Moreover, we need to engage, locally and diplomatically with the regional players, in the tribal regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, seek an agreement or understanding with the Taliban and tribal leaders. These are Islamic countries and community based collectivistic societies. I think the President and the U.S. Department of State, could obviously use the expertise of a "Conflict Resolution specialist and a conflict resolver" on their "A" team!

South Korea
December 4, 2009

Palgye in South Korea writes:

-The warfare dislikes but, thinks from Afghanistan that "must" win a victory.

Though the ability is not but, thinks as ever adherent public opinion one person. The actuality where I am placed is and the sprout which will say is not but the effort of the maximum thinks that the ability which does but lacks plentifully. The most only defends so far as it is even in everybody's effort and thinks, the problem only defends as it is and is seen and, abuses it thinks the people exists to problem. Like using the one-time article.

Wishes what kind of about five Republic of Ghana compensation to knows minimum disruption does not receive.The people who assists was, but secret intention to the thought which is personal, the angel is to a sky and the demon thinks that there is to a ground.

Is sorry. Thought tries to write with is remind. and Dislikes that splits the team. The works which will approach in future are not thought like the last time easily will like that be solved. sorry.

Virginia, USA
December 4, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

The country of Pakistan is responsible for many terrorist attacks, training taliban, supporting insurgency and my question is, "What is the Pakistan Government Security Element doing to round up all the terrorists, in short the United States should have our Military Presence in that country, if Pakistan cannot provide security, maybe the United States should"? Pakistan in my opinion is a terrorist paradise for the Taliban. What I would suggest to the President of the United States and our own security forces would be to include a powerful punch against the taliban...First you get permission from the Pakistan Government to allow the US to bring in our group of State Troopers which are the best at rounding up law breakers. Mobilize State Vehicles and State Law Enforcement from our the United States then send them to the Capitol of Pakistan, then directly use our methods of capture in the United States in Pakistan. This strategy would give the Government of Pakistan the security it needs to combat the Taliban in its own country and reduce the taliban forces entering into Afghanistan. I would also suggest using the Indian Government of India, allow our US Forces to be embedded and provide an aggressive security force teams like US Navy Seals on there side to counteract anything that the taliban tries to advance or attack the Indian Nation.

A sighting of Usama bin laden in Afghanistan? I think we all want to see Usama bin laden caught and brought to Justice for all the human rights violations, the true fact about Usama bin laden is his cowardness of not showing his face proves he is weak and yellow to his own Taliban people. He doesn't even have the gutts to show himself to the Arab world or his enemies. What does Usama bin laden and a chicken have in common? Buck Buck Buck Buck!!!

I'm very disappointed in the Saudi Government for not taking action on getting Usama bin laden. They looked the other way, allowed this man to depart the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and did not arrest him. They could of put out a reward for his capture? They did not... They could of sent Saudi's Security forces after Usama bin laden, they did not... They refused to be apart of arresting one of their own which has tarnished the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reputation by the many terrorist attacks which had happened in its own country.

The other true fact is Usama bin laden continues to be a threat to all Arab countries and the world because he is against Government Leaders and powers. He is against rules and regulations and above all he is against the sanity of human life which goes against the very beliefs of the Muslims who live in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Government should be outraged and concerned that Usama bin laden will haunt everyone including them for days to come.

December 4, 2009

F.T. in India writes:

Reading required filtering out of lot of rhetorics between facts. plz make the whole thing short otherwise ok

Illinois, USA
December 4, 2009

Jeri in Illinois writes:

This is an excellent forum, and I am impressed with Katie Dowd's summary of Mr. Obama's speech. I enjoyed reading Secretary Clinton's message to the Afghan and Pakistani people. Although an internet presence is just beginning in that region, it is heartening to read that our State Department is making a sincere effort to communicate to all our global partners. Congratulations on this fine work!

Virginia, USA
December 4, 2009

Milan in Virginia writes:

President had excellent speech. Senate Armed. and Foreign relations Cmte Services, ( Sec. of State Clinton, Defense Sec. Gates and JCS Chairman Adm. Mullen )showed to me, that Pr Obama have excellent Team, too ...

1. Solutions for Afghanistan:
- fight corruptions,
- International standards for effective government & security;
- decentralizations of the country( better cooperation between local / tribal leaders with central government);
- we have to earn trust of Afghanistan people...
- better economy / infrastructures ...

2. My the biggest concern for Pakistan is, if Pakistan's Army ? split?, nuclear weapons are NOT safe and secure...

I believe that Pr Obama and his Team are going in the right direction, to find permanent and the best solution for Afghanistan / Pakistan problem.

Ari C.
Pennsylvania, USA
December 4, 2009

Ari in Pennsylvania writes:

Dear President Obama, Sec. Dr. Clinton et al,

Shabbat Shalom...

Thank you for taking your time on making this huge Team Obama decision. It seems very well formed and supported Globally! Here are 3 short thoughts that may help.

1) Keep it REAL...Ground every decision in their cultural contxt and traditions...Have Social Scientists from the Region at the Design Table at every point.

2) The money and fuel of the Insurgency is the Drug Trade, again...A BBC article yesterday said the Russians, after their huge defeat see the Drug Fields left alone is a BIG Problem...Complex therein.

3) Ask daily in prayer and in your Houses of Worship for the Lord's help...If he's with Team Obama, no one can stand against you- AMEN,

Dr. Cole (R-PA)
Team Cole for 2016

Mary P.
Florida, USA
December 4, 2009

Mary Pat in Florida writes:

This is a wonderful use of technology and one that, I hope, brings our message to the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan. What a great initiative. It would be interesting to see how many people in the targetted countries use their cellphone to download these messages.

Florida, USA
December 7, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ Katie Dowd -- Katie, as a faithful reader of DipNote, I would just like to say that this new format is an excellent idea. The DoS's desire to "listen, learn and engage" the people around the world is admirable. I have traveled outside the U.S. during my life and have learned that listening, truly listening, to people from other countries goes a long way in understanding different viewpoints and, hopefully, eliminating misconceptions. There is nothing wrong with differing ideas being presented! Be encouraged. DipNote and the DoS are doing a great job, keep it coming.

Oklahoma, USA
December 22, 2009

Siraj in Oklahoma writes:

The approach of this administration is very positive towards Afghanistan and Pakistan. But trust me its a very difficult situation because that region is a big mess right now. No one knows what to do. Uneducated and jobless teen agers are being used in attacking the soldiers and civilians by multiple organizations. Our administration should also ad different strategies specially helping Pakistan with clean and honest government not the theifs and robbers who don't care about the innocent lives. One person was right in his comments about sending U.S. police and maintain peace and order. At least they won't take bribes.


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