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US nominee for Afghan envoy favors economic, military support for Pakistan PDF Print E-mail
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WASHINGTON, Mar 26 (APP): As President Barack Obama prepared to lay out a revamped U.S. policy on way forward in militancy‑hit Afghanistan‑Pakistan border region, his nominee for American ambassador in Kabul, Lt Gen Karl Eikenberry, favored economic and military support for Islamabad as part  of a regional security effort.

Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee  for his confirmation hearing, Eikenberry said success  against militants along the porous mountainous border region “is in America’s vital national security interest.”

He said al‑Qaeda and its affiliates “seek to create fear  and chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to regain  the territorial control that (in Afghanistan) allowed them to so horrifically overturn the peace and tranquility of our Homeland seven years ago (with 9/11 attacks).”

Asked by chairman of the committee Senator John Kerry as to what steps he would recommend to immediately make a difference in the security and stability efforts along the border region, Eikenberry, who has been engaged with the Afghan mission from NATO headquarters in Brussels, replied:

“Trying to get immediate gains is very difficult in Afghanistan‑Pakistan but what will be important is a more honest collaborative exchanges of intelligence and willingness to conduct combined operations between the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Secondly, focused aid and assistance programs to the Pakistan military that can give them capability and the wherewithal to attack al‑Qaeda and the extremists that are along the border areas in the northwest frontier province.

“And thirdly, helping the Pakistanis to develop (economic) aid programs which just as you have talked on the Afghan side of the border, (it is) important that the Pakistani authorities adopt the same approach on their own side of the border and perhaps finding ways to collaborate between Afghanistan and Pakistan they have combined economic programs that will be win‑win across the border.”

Questioned by a lawmaker about India’s role in Afghanistan and its implications in the context of India‑Pakistan historical tensions, Eikenberry said India has played a role in economic development efforts in the insurgency‑wrecked country. 

At the same time, he noted that “Pakistan and India have had, of course, a very difficult relationship at times, which is over the years, which has seen points of severe tension and points of rapprochement.

“(But) what is critical is that within the region facilitated by the United States to the extent that we can and we can try, and facilitated by other critical nations, that we find ways to have cooperative approaches made toward Afghanistan (so) that it does not become a location of competition (but) it becomes a location for cooperation.”

He claimed that al‑Qaeda and its allies operating in Afghanistan and the Pakistani border areas are planning attacks against the United States and Pakistan itself.

Zeroing in on problems inside Afghanistan he acknowledged that “the situation in Afghanistan is increasingly difficult.”

“Time is of the essence. There are areas of instability and poor governance inside the country and threatening dangerous terrorist sanctuaries beyond its borders. Within these spaces, extremists try to exploit the weakness of the existing political system to impose their own vision of social order characterized by brutality and barbarism. There is no silver bullet and no quick, cheap, or easy solutions. There is no substitute for more resources and sacrifice.”

The United States, its international partners, and most importantly, the Afghans, must work to reduce corruption and strengthen the rule of law, he added. 

“Without real progress on these issues, success will be very difficult to achieve. We need to expand training and education for Afghan judicial and law enforcement officials who are dedicated to serving their people’s access to justice and protection. 

“Today’s sobering reality is that Afghanistan supplies more than 90 percent of the world’s illicit opiates. The corrupting effect of drugs and the steady revenue stream provided by the narcotics trade fuel the insurgency and are a scourge, eroding Afghan aspirations for security, government probity, and economic development. We must acknowledge that the drug trade also affects Afghanistan’s neighbors, who suffer from high rates of addiction and narco‑trafficking associated crime and violence. Accordingly, a coordinated and cooperative regional approach is essential to counter this growing threat.”

 

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