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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2710

Success or failure in Afghanistan, Pakistan linked, says US official

By Wajid Ali Syed – Washington Correspondent for Asian Tribune

Washington, 23 April, (Asiantribune.com): The United States cannot afford to ignore the challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and success or failure in one country likely means the same for the other, Michèle Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy told a gathering at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"Instability in Pakistan threatens our efforts in Afghanistan," Flournoy said adding that "Failure in Afghanistan would increase the risk of failure in Pakistan. And recognizing this interaction must be central to every dimension of our strategy."

Flournoy, who recently co-chaired a review that helped to guide President Barack Obama's strategy in the region, offered a stark warning that failure in the region would have far-reaching impacts, well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"We simply cannot choose to ignore the growth and professionalization of violent extremist groups. And in a nuclear Pakistan, the stakes are as high as they can get," she said.

A civil-military counterinsurgency strategy needs to be resourced that can reverse Taliban gains and protect the population, Flournoy said, while at the same time provide Afghan forces with more training and mentoring.

More trainers are needed, she said, and US units deploying to Afghanistan should be given the mission of not only securing the population, but also partnering with local Afghan units to build their capacity. Strengthening and integrating civilian assistance efforts also is critical, she added.

The new strategy also will show a slight shift from solely concentrating on building the Afghan national government, to focusing more resources on building Afghanistan's municipalities, she said.

In Pakistan, efforts must be placed on building Pakistani counterinsurgency and counterterrorism capabilities so that the country's legitimate government can more effectively combat militants at home, she said.

Pakistan has been both a victim of terrorism and a safe haven for terrorists for too long, she said. "Pakistani democracy needs our support.... We share an enemy."

- Asian Tribune -

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