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Public Statements

Hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee - "Afghanistan and Pakistan: Transition and the Way Forward"

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

We welcome Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to assess U.S. policy and progress in Afghanistan and
Pakistan.

In 2009, President Obama initiated a "surge" in Afghanistan, resulting in the approximately 90,000 U.S.
troops there now. The President underscored the fundamental connection between our war effort in Afghanistan and the extremist safe havens in Pakistan and defined the goal as disrupting, dismantling, and
defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies. In the 2010 review, the President noted that:

"Ultimately, it is Afghans who must secure their country...and it is Afghans who must build their
nation."

"It will take time to ultimately defeat al Qaeda, and it remains a ruthless and resilient enemy bent
on attacking our country."

"But make no mistake -- we are going to remain relentless in disrupting and dismantling that
terrorist organization."

However, President Obama announced the withdrawal of ten thousand U.S. troops from Afghanistan by
the end of 2011 with another twenty-three thousand to be withdrawn by the rather curious date of
September 2012. Therefore, Madam Secretary, we must ask: Where are we in achieving the strategic
objectives outlined by the President?

Progress in the fight is undeniable but our gains remain fragile. On the one hand, the U.S. is negotiating
with the Haqqani network. And yet, on the other, we are attempting to destroy the Haqqani network.
There have been some unwelcome developments since the President's announcement four months ago,
such as the multiple high-profile assassinations of major leaders in Afghanistan. Turnover to the Afghan
National Security Forces remains a significant challenge in some of the key contested areas. And on the
counternarcotics front, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported a 7 percent increase in
opium poppy-crop cultivation, citing the link between insecurity and opium cultivation.

This leads us to the broader question: What are the priorities for advancing our national security interests
in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

I remain troubled by Iran's threatening and unhelpful role in Afghanistan, so I ask: What additional
pressure are we bringing to bear to offset Iranian influence in Afghanistan?

The most important long-term aspect of the American relationship with Afghanistan today is the strategic
partnership declaration under negotiation with Kabul. During the negotiations over the Strategic
Framework Agreement and Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq, the previous Administration
extensively engaged and consulted the Congress in a bipartisan manner. We are disappointed that a
similar level of outreach, engagement, consultation and transparency on this critical issue has been
decidedly absent on the current Afghanistan negotiations.

So, I'm capitalizing on your appearance today, Madam Secretary, to secure information on the agreement
being negotiated. What are the primary components? Do you anticipate a total withdrawal like we are
about to do in Iraq, or will we remain to train and perhaps have a modest counterterrorism presence?
How will it address critical weaknesses within the political system, such as too much power concentrated
in the presidency, and an overdependence on foreign aid? What reforms are we requesting to fix these
flaws? Are we insisting on the right to pursue insurgents who threaten us and our interests? Are we
preserving our tactical and operational flexibility?

The Afghan government must be pushed to take the necessary steps to become a reliable partner for the
U.S. over the long term. Too much American blood and treasure have been invested in Afghanistan for
us to walk away or to have a government that threatens American interests.

Turning to Pakistan, our relations continue to suffer from a cascading series of crises. First there was the
bitter Raymond Davis affair involving the U.S. embassy worker who shot and killed two Pakistani men he
believed were robbing him. Davis was correctly released to U.S. custody. The ultimate disgrace was the
discovery of Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan and living adjacent to a Pakistani military facility. And
now, we see brazen attacks by Islamabad's armed proxies against the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. targets
in Afghanistan.

Our two countries are at a crossroads. We cannot sustain a partnership with Islamabad if it pursues
policies that are hostile to U.S. interests and jeopardize American lives.

Legislation developed in our Committee and carried by the Appropriations Committee puts tough
conditions on U.S. assistance to Pakistan funded through State Department accounts. Pakistan's security
establishment must work more closely with us to eliminate al Qaeda and its affiliates, while cooperating
more fully with our goal to help stabilize Afghanistan.

Can the relationship be salvaged and can our strategic objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan be brought
into better alignment? It is hard to be optimistic. All the options on the table appear deeply unappetizing.
All run the risk of being ineffectual, counterproductive, or both.

Madam Secretary, we look to you to help clarify for us the strategic choices that we, Pakistan, and
Afghanistan face at this profoundly challenging time for the future of peace and stability in South Asia.
We are especially interested in hearing about your very recent trip to the region. Thank you for appearing
before our Committee today and I look forward to working with you to advance our critical national
security interests in this increasingly pivotal region.


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