U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today underlined the relevance of cooperation with Pakistan and Afghanistan to American national security.
On her remarks before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ms. Clinton reported that Usama bin Ladin and many of his top lieutenants are dead. However, she stressed that the threat remains real and urgent, especially from al-Qaida’s affiliates.
“But the group’s senior leadership has been devastated and its ability to conduct operations greatly diminished. Many of our successes against al-Qaida would not have been possible without our presence in Afghanistan and close cooperation with Pakistan.” -Ms. Clinton
She cited that now in Afghanistan, they still face a difficult fight, but coalition and Afghan forces have reversed the Taliban momentum in key areas. She stressed that Afghan security forces have a long way to go, but they are taking more responsibility every day.
“And while the country still faces enormous challenges from poverty and corruption, our development efforts have bolstered the economy and improved lives.” -Ms. Clinton
According to Ms. Clinton, ten years ago, fewer than a million students enrolled in Afghan schools, all of them boys; now more than 7 million, nearly 40 percent of them are girls. She highlighted that Afghans are better positioned to chart their own future.
“I offer these very brief examples as a reminder that, as President Obama has said, we are meeting our commitments and we are making progress toward our goals. And we cannot let up. We should build on our momentum, not undercut our progress. Now I will be the first to admit that working with our Afghan and Pakistani partners is not always easy. But these relationships are advancing America’s national security interests, and walking away from them would undermine those interests.” -Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton reported her completed a productive visit to both countries. She said in Kabul and Islamabad, she emphasized the U.S. three-track strategy of fight, talk, and build, pursuing all three tracks at once.
“And the chance of success for all three are greatly increased by strong cooperation from the Afghan and Pakistani governments.” -Ms. Clinton