Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today stressed that civilian surge in Afghanistan and Pakistan that accompanied the military surge in Afghanistan has helped advance US goals of defeating al-Qaeda, reversing the Taliban’s momentum in key areas, and bolstering the economy and civil society of both countries.
In her statement of the release of the Status Report: Afghanistan and Pakistan Civilian Engagement, Ms. Clinton said as U.S. troops begin a phased drawdown in Afghanistan as part of the larger plan for transition, the U.S. civilian initiatives in both Afghanistan and Pakistan are assuming new importance.
“This report provides a thorough review of our civilian efforts, identifies significant challenges and areas of progress, and outlines the way forward. It places the work of our diplomats, development experts, and other civilian specialists within the framework of our “fight, talk, build” strategy.” -Ms. Clinton
She stated that the United States will continue the fight, as coalition and Afghan forces increase the pressure on the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and other insurgents. The U.S. government will continue supporting an Afghan-led peace process that meets our red-lines.
“This won’t be easy, but reconciliation is still possible and is the best hope for peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. And we will continue to build capacity and opportunity in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and across the region, because lasting stability and security go hand in hand with greater economic opportunity.” -Ms. Clinton
She noted that in Afghanistan, “build” means supporting Afghans in laying the foundation for sustainable economic growth in the run-up to 2014, while also shifting from short-term stabilization projects to long-term development programs. In Pakistan, it means leveraging the resources provided by the landmark Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation to address major economic challenges that threaten Pakistan’s stability.
“And across the wider region, it means pursuing a broader, long-term vision for regional economic integration – a New Silk Road – that will lower trade barriers, create jobs, and reinforce political stability.” -Ms. Clinton
She stressed that U.S. civilian efforts were never designed to solve all of Afghanistan’s development challenges or to completely turn around Pakistan’s economy. She said the strategy is is critical to U.S. broader strategy that civilian assistance continue in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“Disengaging now would undermine our military and political efforts and the national security interests of the United States.”-Ms. Clinton