Progress in U.S.-Pak relationship substantial but uneven: Obama
Washington: Noting that Pakistan is central to America’s efforts to defeat Al-Qaeda and prevent its return to the region, U.S. President Barack Obama said progress in U.S.-Pak relationship last year was substantial but uneven.
“Progress in our relationship with Pakistan over the last year has been substantial, but also uneven,” Mr. Obama said in the third-quarterly report to the Congress on Afghanistan and Pakistan sent yesterday.
The 2010 Afghanistan-Pakistan Annual Review includes an evaluation of the progress made during the period of this report, which marked the full deployment of the U.S. troop “surge” to Afghanistan that he announced in December 2009, Mr. Obama said in a letter to the Congressional leaders.
He said the review also highlights particular areas in U.S. strategy for Pakistan that require adjustment.
“Specific components of the strategy, taken individually, indicate we are headed in the right direction, both in terms of U.S. focus and Pakistani cooperation. However, better balance and integration of the various components of our strategy will be required to reach our objectives,” Mr. Obama said.
“For instance, the denial of extremist safe havens will require greater cooperation with Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan. Furthermore, the denial of extremist safe havens cannot be achieved through military means alone, but must continue to be advanced by effective development strategies,” the President said.
“In 2011, we must strengthen our dialogue with both Pakistan and Afghanistan on regional stability. Toward that end, Secretary Clinton plans to host foreign ministers from both countries in Washington for another session of the United States-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral dialogue.
“On bilateral issues, we must support the Government of Pakistan’s efforts to strengthen its economy, improve governance and security, and respond to the development needs of the Pakistani people,” Mr. Obama said.
The Administration will continue U.S.-Pak Strategic Dialogue and sustain senior level engagement, he said.
“Pakistan is central to our efforts to defeat al-Qaeda and prevent its return to the region. We seek to secure these interests through continued, robust counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency cooperation and a long-term partnership anchored by our improved understanding of Pakistan’s strategic priorities, increased civilian and military assistance, and expanded public diplomacy,” he said.
“Progress in our relationship with Pakistan over the last year has been substantial, but also uneven. We worked jointly in the last year to disrupt the threat posed by al-Qaeda, and Pakistan has made progress against extremist safe havens, taking action in six of seven agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA),” he said.
These gains came at great cost, as Pakistan has endured thousands of casualties in their military ranks and among their civilian population from terrorist attacks.
“There was improvement in our security assistance, with increased training cooperation, more support for Pakistan’s military operations, and greater border coordination,” Mr. Obama said.
In 2010, Mr. Obama had said the U.S. also enhanced the United States-Pakistan relationship through Strategic Dialogue.
“The Dialogue developed mutual trust, prompted attention to reforms critical to long-term stability, and addressed development objectives important to the people of Pakistan.”
Civilian assistance increased with more aid flowing through Pakistani institutions, improved civilian stabilisation activities, the development of critical energy and other infrastructure, and a robust flood response and recovery effort, which NATO directly assisted.
“We believe our renewed bilateral partnership is helping promote stability in Pakistan,” he said.
“It clearly communicates U.S. commitment to a long-term relationship that is supportive of Pakistan’s interests and underscores that we will not disengage from the region as we have in the past,” Mr. Obama said.