The United States strongly condemns the abduction and killing of reporter Syed Saleem Shehzad. His work reporting on terrorism and intelligence issues in Pakistan brought to light the troubles extremism poses to Pakistan’s stability. We support the Pakistani government’s investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.
We remain committed to helping the government and people of Pakistan as they work to bring peace and stability to the country.
QUESTION: In Syria, Secretary Clinton, the government crackdown has killed an estimated 700 people in the last two months. What took so long for the Administration to put these new sanctions into place?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Katie, I don’t think it took long at all. I think we wanted to coordinate with our allies in the European Union, to talk to our friends and partners in the region, especially those that border Syria, Israel, Iraq, and others. And we also wanted to make it clear that, as the President just said in his speech, President Asad of Syria can either lead this transition or get out of the way. And unfortunately, the evidence thus far is that he’s not providing the kind of leadership that is needed.
QUESTION: So are you willing to say he should get out of the way; President Asad must go?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think President Obama was very clear. And what we want is to continue to support the voices of democracy, those who are standing against the brutality. But we’re also well aware every situation is different, and in this one, Asad has said a lot of things that you didn’t hear from other leaders in the region about the kind of changes he would like to see. That may all be out the window, or he may have one last chance.
QUESTION: At the same time, this Syrian regime is close to Iran. They’re getting support from Iran to – for their tactics of suppression, if you will. They’re – they support terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. So why not just say he needs to be removed?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you’re right that Iran is supporting them, and the President mentioned that in his speech today. It hasn’t been publicly talked about as much as the facts warrant, and we’re calling them out on it. But I think we also know that there are many different forces at work in Syria, like in so many of the countries in the region. And we think it would be better if the people of Syria themselves made it clear to Asad that there have to be changes. And part of what the President – our President – Obama was doing today, was to say, “Do you want to end up like Iran, Syria? And President Asad, do you want to end up like a leader of a country that is further and further isolated?” So each of these situations has to be carefully calibrated, and I think the President got it just right.
QUESTION: So is the U.S. pursuing regime change in Syria?
SECRETARY CLINTON: What we are doing is exactly what President Obama said: Either you lead the transition or get out of the way. How that happens is up to the people of that country.
QUESTION: The whole notion of regime change isn’t working very well in Libya, is it?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I disagree with that. I think we are seeing slow but steady progress. The pressure on the Qadhafi regime has increased to the point that Qadhafi’s wife and daughter fled across the border into Tunisia in the last two days. The oil minister has defected. There is an enormous amount of increased messaging going to Qadhafi, not just because of the military strikes but from those who he thought were in his camp or at least wouldn’t try to push him to leave.
At the same time, the Transitional National Council and their military forces are getting better. They started off as being totally unprepared for what they were confronting. So we’re making progress. I wish it would go faster, they certainly wish it would go faster, but we’re on the right path.
QUESTION: How long are we willing to wait?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re feeling very encouraged by the trend. And what we want to see is a change in regime in Libya and a move toward a democratic government. And I think we’re prepared to keep the pressure on till that happens.
QUESTION: Why does the killing of civilians in Libya justify U.S. military involvement, but the killing of civilians in Syria does not?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, part of the reason is look at the difference in the reaction of the world. It was very clear that not only Europeans, but most importantly, neighbors and the Arab League itself all reached the same conclusion at the same time about Libya and Qadhafi. Now, I think it’s very important that, as President Obama has said and repeated again today, we have real interests as the United States. We have security interests, we have economic interests, and we have interests that affect our values, because we do believe in democracy and what it can bring to people.
But we also know that there’s no one size fits all and there’s no magic wand. If there were, we’d be waving it like crazy. And in Libya, what we had was a unique international coalition. What we’re seeing now is increasing pressure on Syria. We’re seeing the European Union taking actions, us upping the actions, and I think you’ll see more in the days to come.
QUESTION: Why not exercise U.S. leadership, though, Secretary Clinton, and galvanize the international community to take more aggressive steps in Syria?
SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s no appetite for that, Katie. There’s no willingness. We haven’t had any of the kind of pressure that we saw building from our European NATO allies, from the Arab League and others, to do what has been done in Libya. Now, there are many reasons for that, historical reasons, strategic reasons. But the fact is that we are trying to be smart about how we evaluate each individual situation. We reached the conclusion in Libya that the United States could be part of an international effort. We were not the ones going to dictate it. We’ve got our hands full. We’re fighting hard, and we’ve made great progress with the ending of bin Ladin as a voice of extremism and death, and we want to continue to move on all fronts at the same time. And that means we want others to be part of what we’re doing.
QUESTION: The peace talks have stalled. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has become more insulated. George Mitchell is resigning. The Obama Administration has been criticized for not working hard enough to move the ball forward in the peace process. Fair criticism?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Not at all fair. I think President Obama was absolutely right today in saying that we’ve been working on this, literally, from the first day in office. And Senator Mitchell had always said he could give it two years, he couldn’t give it more. His very able deputy, Ambassador David Hale, has stepped in. Senator Mitchell was at the speech today because obviously, he remains interested, but could not continue his commitments. And what the President said today was we want to see negotiations, but we’re not able to make those negotiations happen. But we know that without negotiations, there will be no end to the conflict, no end to the claims, and no two-state solution.
QUESTION: The President said that the Palestinian state should be a non-militarized state. Why don’t the Palestinians have the right of self-defense like Israel, and do you think they’ll accept that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there are non-militarized states around the world. And we believe – and I think for many years Palestinians have publicly and privately suggested that they believe as well – that that would be an important step for them to take.
Why? Number one, because they don’t want to look like they’re a threat to any of their neighbors; not just Israel, but others. And number two, because they know that Israel has legitimate security concerns.
QUESTION: Let’s talk about the killing of Usama bin Ladin. Would you recommend additional unilateral raids if you knew the whereabouts of other key al-Qaida figures in Pakistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Katie, I’m not going to comment on any hypotheticals and I certainly wouldn’t go into any operational details. But I think it should be sufficient to say that the United States has made it clear from the very moment we were attacked – and I remember it excruciatingly well because of my service as a senator in New York – that we would go after those who had attacked us. Bin Ladin was our primary target. The President made a gutsy decision. We were very pleased that the operation succeeded. And we’ve made it clear to people around the world that if we locate someone who has been part of the al-Qaida leadership, then you get him or we will get him.
QUESTION: When it comes to harboring Usama bin Ladin, I know you’re trying to find out what did they know, when did they know it, and who knew. Clearly, someone did. What is the U.S. going to do about Pakistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would answer the same way that Secretary Gates said, because he and I see this eye to eye. We believe that it was not proven that anybody at the top of the government in Pakistan knew where bin Ladin was, but it seems likely that somebody did know. I said that the first time I went to Pakistan. I said, “It’s hard to believe that somebody in your government somewhere – and it could be some very low-level person – doesn’t know where he is.” And we’re having very candid conversations with our Pakistani partners.
I want to make it clear to your audience that we’ve had good cooperation on many important strategic interests of the United States with Pakistan, and we have supported them in their own fight against the extremists who are killing and threatening their people. But we expect more. We’re having conversations about what more we can do together.
QUESTION: When are you planning to go to Pakistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’ll see how the conversations go. Marc Grossman, my special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, is there now, following up on some of the areas of concern.
QUESTION: You have said you are going to leave your post at the end of this term.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What are you going to do?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t know. I was thinking maybe take your job, but I don’t know what your next job’s going to be either, so – I love what I’m doing. And of course, serving the President, serving my country, is a very high honor. But I also want to do some other things too.
QUESTION: What will your legacy as Secretary of State be?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s too –
QUESTION: What would you like it to be?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s too soon to tell. I don’t want to try to write it only about halfway through. But I think it is clear that what we’ve attempted to do, as I said in my introduction to the President this morning, is to marshal the resources of our diplomatic and development experts, because we were getting awfully militarized in our foreign policy. And I have the highest regard for my DOD colleagues. And we are now working side by side, not just here in Washington, but out in the field, in places like Afghanistan. And it’s that kind of full government approach, using smart power to advance America’s interests, that I think has to be the hallmark of our foreign policy.
QUESTION: The President said after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be. Not exactly the realist philosophy favored by the military. Is that too idealistic? Is it overreaching? Is it another way of looking at nation-building?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it’s always a mistake to characterize our foreign policy as either idealistic or realistic because America is both. If we were not idealistic, whoever would have believed that we could fulfill this crazy idea of our founders of equality under the law and a nation that was really built on fundamental freedoms? If we weren’t realistic, how could we not only have survived but basically flourished and even triumphed through our more than 225 years of history?
We are both. And we idealistically, passionately, believe in human dignity and freedom and opportunity. That’s what we stand for. But we are clear-eyed and very cold, calculating when it comes to figuring out how we’re going to protect America and how we’re going to further our interests and values. So it’s not either/or. It never has been. And I think trying to put us as a nation or our foreign policy or any president or secretary of state into the either/or box really misses the complexity of what we are contending with.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Clinton, thank you so much for your time.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Katie. Great to talk to you and good luck.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ve really enjoyed my – our many times together over the years.
QUESTION: Thank you.
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Chairman Kerry Opening Statement At Hearing On “Afghanistan: Governance and the Civilian Strategy”
The full text of his statement as prepared is below:
I want to thank everyone for coming this afternoon. And I want to extend a special thanks to Ambassador Holbrooke, who has taken time from his busy schedule to appear again before the committee. As always, Dick, we look forward to hearing your insights on the current situation and on the prospects for the future in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This is the Foreign Relations Committee’s 11th hearing on Afghanistan in the past year and a half. The number reflects our commitment to understanding the challenges in Afghanistan and our recognition of the critical role this conflict plays in the region and in our own national security.
The number also reflects an unfortunate fact: Last month, Afghanistan surpassed Vietnam as the longest military campaign in American history. More than 1,000 men and women have lost their lives in Afghanistan. Nearly 6,000 have been injured, many of them grievously. We owe a duty to every one of them, to their families and to the tens of thousands of other military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan from this country and our partners to exercise our oversight role seriously and responsibly.
This is a difficult moment in the Afghan conflict. Our progress is decidedly mixed, particularly in the south where the Taliban are strongest. They are assassinating government officials and tribal leaders and intimidating Afghans who want to support coalition efforts.
Corruption appears to be growing. One in three Afghan households reports having to pay a bribe to obtain public services. And our civilian aid efforts to bring stability and consolidate military gains are off to a slow start in the south and east.
Many people are asking whether we have the right strategy. Some suggest this is a lost cause. But grim as the statistics are, heartbreaking as every death is, this is not the time to give up.
This is the time to ask hard questions about the progress we are making toward our objectives of defeating Al Qaeda and bringing a measure of stability to Afghanistan. This is the time to demand accountability from our partners on the battlefield and in the corridors of government from Washington to Brussels, from Kabul to Kandahar.
And it’s time asses how our strategy fits the realities on the ground. Over the past year, some of those realities have changed, very few for the better. I believe the three conditions I laid out last October for deploying more troops still hold today, and I have doubts about whether they are being met.
First, we should insist on the presence of reliable Afghan troops to partner with our military before we clear an area. Second, in order to hold an area, we should require capable local leaders with whom we can partner to provide effective governance. And finally, to build and transfer an area to Afghan control, the civilian side must be prepared to move in quickly with well-implemented development aid.
Let me be clear: When these conditions are not met, it is difficult to imagine a good outcome.
Today’s hearing is intended to take a tough look at our civilian strategy to see if we are on the right path. The administration requested $4.4 billion in fiscal year 2010 to support civilian efforts in Afghanistan, and another $3.9 billion for next fiscal year.
We need to be smart in how we spend this money. In recent weeks, the committee staff conducted 16 briefings with the State Department and USAID to examine how we are spending the taxpayers’ money – dollar by dollar, sector by sector in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will continue to keep a close eye on how our money is being used to promote stability in this region.
But all of these billions of dollars, and all of the sacrifices by our troops, will be irrelevant if the United States and our partners do not have a serious strategy to establish effective Afghan governance. The problem is that the key element of this strategy is the one over which we have the least control, and that is the willingness and the ability of Afghans to assume ownership of this effort.
For nearly nine years, most Afghans have seen themselves as bystanders in a conflict between the West and Al Qaeda being fought in their homeland. In recent months, we have launched a concerted effort to convince Afghans that this is their fight. This is not easy, given their historic distrust of foreigners on Afghan soil, but it is vital.
Ultimately, we need a better understanding of what success means in Afghanistan and what an acceptable state looks like there. I have said repeatedly that there is no purely military solution in Afghanistan. But we need to understand what a political solution looks like and how we get there.
These are some of the questions that we will be posing to Ambassador Holbrooke today.
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Presiding: Senator Kerry
Time: 02:00 PM
Location: 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Statement of Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
Appearance before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Chairman Kerry, Ranking Member Lugar: Thank you for this opportunity to provide an update on our efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Tonight I depart for Islamabad, and then will travel on to Kabul, and New Delhi. This will be my 14th visit to Pakistan in the past 19 months. In addition to meetings with key leaders on a range of topics, I will join Secretary Clinton when she leads the U.S. delegation to the Kabul Conference. While the Kabul Conference has attracted more international attention, we have seen a significant intensification of our dialogue with Pakistan, where we have convened 13 successful Strategic Dialogue Working Group meetings over the past two months. These meetings followed the March 24-25 U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue in Washington, and the Secretary’s highly successful visit to Pakistan in October 2009. The Kabul Conference and other upcoming events – including another Afghanistan-Pakistan-United States trilateral meeting later this year – are part of a series of milestones concluding with the Administration’s planned assessment of our progress in December 2010.
As President Obama reiterated just a few weeks ago, our Core Goal in Afghanistan and Pakistan is clear: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda, and prevent its return to both countries. I participated in the Fall 2009 policy review. And in close consultation with Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, General Petraeus, Ambassadors Eikenberry and Patterson, and Dr. Shah, my interagency team has been working tirelessly to help implement the President’s strategy. We face huge implementation challenges on the ground. But our political and diplomatic engagement with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other influential countries has evolved significantly since my first official visit to the region in January 2009, bringing us closer to facilitating a durable and favorable resolution of the conflict.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Pakistan, where we have seen a steady improvement in our bilateral relationship. As members of this committee have recognized, what happens in Pakistan has tremendous implications not only for our goals in Afghanistan, but also for the stability of South-Central Asia and for U.S. national security. We have been pursuing three objectives simultaneously in Pakistan: (1) enhancing stability (political, economic, and security); (2) supporting Pakistan’s offensive against extremists who threaten Pakistan and the United States; and (3) encouraging a closer relationship between Islamabad and Kabul. Through a carefully calibrated approach, we are seeing signs of progress. For the first time in more than a decade, we recognize and are engaging the people of Pakistan on their legitimate interests and priorities, even as we encourage greater collaboration in areas of mutual interest.
Politically, Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders have settled into a relatively stable equilibrium as a result of recent constitutional reforms. The upgraded and intensified U.S.-
Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, which Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Quereshi convened in March, has provided a framework to engage Pakistan on mutual priorities and assisted the Pakistani government in structuring reforms crucial to long-term stability.
Economically, Pakistan’s leaders have made many tough decisions necessary to meet the mutually agreed conditions of the IMF’s Stand-by agreement. As a result Pakistan has shifted from economic crisis to a period of economic recovery. Other tough decisions and reforms will be necessary to ensure that Pakistan remains on the path towards economic self sufficiency. Our overhauled assistance programs, made possible by the landmark Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, will help reinforce these reforms in areas such as energy. They also will further improve our relationship with the Pakistani people by signaling our support for addressing Pakistan’s most pressing problems.
These programs would not have been possible without this committee’s leadership. We have been engaged in a substantive dialogue on how to best structure our assistance to maximize its impact, and I look forward to continued close collaboration as initial Kerry-Lugar-Berman funding comes online. Equally important is passage of Reconstruction Opportunity Zone (ROZ) legislation, which would further bolster our efforts to stabilize Pakistan’s border areas by creating licit economic opportunities. ROZs would also support Pakistani reconstruction efforts in the border areas by stimulating economic opportunity.
On counterterrorism issues, Prime Minister Gilani and President Zardari have united the Pakistani people – including the opposition – behind the Pakistani military’s offensive in the tribal areas. We cannot forget that the Pakistani people and armed forces have made huge sacrifices as part of this fight. In the past month alone, scores of innocent Pakistanis have been killed or wounded in suicide attacks. Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis have also had their lives upended.
As Secretary Clinton emphasized during her October 2009 visit and again at the March Strategic Dialogue, the American people will continue to stand by the Pakistani people in their time of need. We are proud to be the world’s largest provider of assistance to displaced Pakistanis and we will build on that support, as I announced during my June visit to Pakistan. USAID and State are continuing to provide a range of stabilization assistance in post-conflict areas. We appreciate this Committee’s support for innovative approaches to ensuring that this assistance reaches Pakistani communities most affected by violence and most in need of our support. Through this assistance and new mobile and radio communications programs, we are helping the Pakistani people to overcome the extremist narrative and end the cycle of extremist violence.
Our focused security assistance and close cooperation with the Pakistani military are, of course, critical tools for building Pakistani counterinsurgency capabilities and shaping Pakistan’s counterterrorism operations. Even as we increase our civilian assistance levels, I believe we must maintain our security assistance and adapt it to emerging needs.
Perhaps the most significant Pakistan-related development since January 2009 has been its improved relationship with Afghanistan. Recognizing that Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s futures are intertwined, we have consulted closely with both governments on our strategy. Through the
trilateral process, we have facilitated a significant thaw in relations between Islamabad and Kabul and encouraged progress on regional economic integration. There is not yet strategic symmetry on all topics, but the thawing of differences should create additional opportunities as our regional diplomacy and political strategy develops. Significantly, Pakistan’s leaders now publicly acknowledge the cross-border nature of the extremist threat and that Afghan stability is in Pakistan’s interest. Meanwhile, we have also welcomed the resumption of more frequent high-level dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad, which should benefit regional stability.
Across the border, the July 20 Kabul Conference will provide an opportunity for the Afghan government to offer concrete plans to benefit the Afghan people. This is the first major international conference held in Afghanistan since the 1970s and an important step towards greater Afghan ownership and sovereignty. We expect that President Karzai will address commitments he made in his November 2009 inaugural address and at the January 2010 London Conference – including on topics such as on governance and accountability, rule of law, and economic and social development.
Among the most important announcements will be the formal launch of an operational reintegration program, supported by an international trust fund. Additionally, the Department of Defense has been authorized to spend up to $100 million to support initial Afghan reintegration efforts. Achieving a durable and favorable resolution of the conflict will require the Afghan government to increasingly address the Afghan people’s grievances and economic needs. This includes the sizable number of insurgents who are not affiliated with al-Qaeda and have been attracted to the insurgency for non-ideological reasons. President Obama discussed reintegration and reconciliation with President Karzai when he visited Washington in May. We welcomed the Afghan government’s plan to host a Consultative Peace Jirga with a representative group of Afghan society to discuss the details of this reintegration plan and broader outreach efforts. We are now supporting the Afghan government’s efforts to implement several Jirga outcomes.
During President Karzai’s recent visit, President Obama reiterated that our support for Afghan-led reintegration and reconciliation is based on a shared commitment to full transparency and basic principles. Insurgents must: (1) cut ties to al-Qaeda; (2) cease violence against the Afghan state; and (3) accept the Afghan constitution, including its protections for human rights and women’s equality. Our position on this last point is unambiguous. Afghan-led peace efforts must not be a vehicle for reversing the progress of Afghan women and girls since 2001. As Secretary Clinton reiterated during President Karzai’s visit, “it is essential that women’s rights and women’s opportunities are not sacrificed or trampled on in the reconciliation process.” We will not abandon Afghanistan’s women.
Another important outcome of the Kabul Conference will likely be the announcement of a joint NATO-Afghan government provincial transition plan. In April, ISAF partners and Allies endorsed a decision-making framework to discuss with the Afghan government. NATO Senior Civilian Ambassador Mark Sedwill has been coordinating with Afghan ministers to outline a detailed mechanism. Transition will not be a single event, nor will it represent the end of the international military and civilian assistance to the Afghan government in a particular province. Instead, transition will be a process by which the Afghan government assumes greater
responsibility for security. As conditions improve on the ground, the Afghan government will be able to provide improved services in key districts at the sub-national level.
In this context, it is also important to understand the meaning of July 2011. As President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and Secretary Gates have made clear, July 2011is not a withdrawal date for all U.S. combat forces. In the President’s words, we will not “be switching off the lights and closing the door behind us.” While in July 2011 we will begin reducing U.S. combat troop levels, the size of and timing of any reduction in forces will be determined after a thorough assessment that will account for the views of the Afghan government, as well as our ISAF Allies and partners. The eventual pace of the reduction in U.S. combat troops will depend on the conditions on the ground. And even then, our partnership with the Afghan government and Afghan people will not end.
As President Obama explained during his joint press conference with President Karzai on May 12, “Even as we begin to transition security responsibility to Afghans over the next year, we will sustain a robust commitment in Afghanistan going forward…will partner with the Afghan people for the long term – toward a future of greater security, prosperity, justice, and progress.” The shape of this long-term commitment will be clarified in coming months as we negotiate a new Strategic Partnership with the Afghan government. The Strategic Partnership will provide a framework for transitioning to a more normal bilateral relationship with the Afghan government. Discussions will focus on themes critical to the U.S.-Afghanistan relationship, including our long-term commitment of security and economic assistance. We have committed to consult Afghanistan’s neighbors and key partners as part of these deliberations, and will also keep Congress fully informed.
Equally important will be a sustained international commitment to supporting the Afghan government. Parallel to our negotiation of a new U.S.-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership, we will consult with our ISAF Allies and partners, encouraging them to publicly commit to: (1) continued assistance for training and equipping Afghanistan’s security forces; and (2) providing long-term development assistance. This long-term commitment is the only way to ensure that our gains are durable and that Afghanistan does not once again become a safe haven from which extremists plot attacks on our homeland.
Prudent planning for the future should not be mistaken for a lack of commitment to our ongoing civ-mil efforts. I outlined our civilian initiatives when I appeared before this committee in January and presented the Afghanistan and Pakistan Regional Stabilization Strategy. Over the past six months, General Petraeus and I have further synchronized our civilian and military plans by continuing a series of civilian-military coordination sessions. In April, we convened for two days in Kabul with the entire civ-mil Embassy-ISAF team, President Karzai, and his senior ministers to review our progress and further refine our programs. We agreed to reconvene in this format again in October. As General Petraeus has now transitioned to a new role as COMISAF, our close collaboration has intensified on a range of issues, including support for Afghan-led reintegration and a sustainable approach to increasing electricity production for Kandahar.
Like many of you, I have traveled outside of Kabul over the past six months to see our civ-mil efforts firsthand. Contrary to some press accounts, our civilians have surged. More than 1,000
USG civilian employees from 10 departments and agencies are now serving in Afghanistan, with a goal of further increasing the civilian presence by as much as 20 percent by the end of 2010. Many of these civilians are deployed on the frontlines, working and living in the same dangerous conditions as our combat troops in places like Kandahar and Marjah. Each civilian in the field often employs up 10 Afghan partners. They are engaged in a range of activities, from rebuilding Afghanistan’s once vibrant agricultural sector, to working with key Afghan ministries to improve provision of health, education, justice, and other services outside of provincial capitals.
We have committed to be providing enhanced levels of oversight and to working with the Afghan government to improve the transparency and accountability of its ministries. Key to these efforts has been a reduction of our reliance on large international contractors and establishment of an accreditation process for Afghan ministries to receive increase direct assistance if they improve transparency, oversight, and accountability. These measures help us manage the risk we assume by working in such a complex environment.
We have also engaged in a clear-eyed discussion with President Karzai on the challenges of corruption – including on the question of how the United States and other international donors can ensure that our contracting practices do not contribute to it. President Karzai identified corruption as a major concern in his inaugural address and we support steps he has taken to begin addressing this problem. These include issuing a Presidential Decree in March 2010 that provided the USAID-supported High Office of Oversight additional investigative powers. It also outlined a process, which we are supporting, for establishing a Monitoring and Evaluation Committee on corruption comprised of Afghan and international experts. Along with other U.S. assistance to the Major Crimes Task Force and Afghanistan’s judiciary, we are helping the Afghan government implement additional safeguards aimed at reducing corruption.
For sure, we face many other challenges to achieving our civilian goals in Afghanistan, including a resilient insurgency and limited, albeit increasing Afghan government capacity. But we are beginning to see initial results from our new strategy in several areas. We plan to provide a more detailed overview of these results later this year, but let me cite a few brief examples:
USAID’s agriculture voucher program, launched in September 2009, has distributed wheat seed to more than 366,000 farmers, trained 80,000 Afghan farmers in best practices, and employed over 70,000 Afghans on short-term rural infrastructure projects. In many places throughout the Afghanistan’s south, these programs are increasingly being administered under the auspices of the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, whose extension agents receive training from forward-deployed USDA and UAID agriculture advisors.
In 2009, we shifted our counternarcotics strategy away from eradication, which did little to reduce poppy cultivation and pushed poor farmers into the Taliban’s hands. Our new counternarcotics strategy is comprehensive, combining: law enforcement; intelligence; interdiction; demand reduction; regional coordination; and alternative livelihoods programs. Since implementing it, we have seen significant increases in: the number of drug labs destroyed; the numbers of drug traffickers arrested; the amounts of opium, poppy, heroin, and morphine base seized; and the number of joint operations with Afghan forces. Civilian DEA agents are helping to train Afghan Counternarcotics Police, and working with Afghan
personnel to identify and destroy narcotrafficking networks. In the first quarter of 2010, international and Afghan forces conducted 56 military and law-enforcement interdiction operations in Afghanistan, largely in the South. These operations destroyed 16.3Metric Tons (MT) of opium, 195 kilograms of morphine, 1.2 MT of heroin, 9.8 MT of hashish and, 10.1 MT of precursor chemicals.
We are working to restore cellular service in areas where the Taliban has destroyed or deactivated towers. One of our civilians embedded with the Marines in Nawa, Helmand Province reported that soon after a local cell tower resumed operation “three cell phone shops opened in the district bazaar and SIM cards were available in the whole of the district – without involvement from the Marines or U.S. civilians. Farmers now call their relatives in the district and provincial capitals to see if prices make it worthwhile to transport their goods. Families can warn each other about influxes of Taliban or mines on the road.” Cell service has recently been extended to Marjah and Garmsir, with similar economic and security benefits. In the coming months, ISAF and our Embassy will work to create a backup network in areas where the Taliban shuts down private carriers. This will provide uninterrupted access for Afghans, improving security for communities as well as our own civilian and military personnel.
Indeed, Afghans in areas previously dominated by the Taliban are slowly supporting the Afghan government. They are appreciative of the improvements that our civilian programs are bringing to their communities. When I met with a group of elders during my recent visit to Marjah, they expressed gratitude for our agricultural support. They also underscored the great personal risks they were undertaking to stand-up against the Taliban.
Ultimately, our goal is to empower the Afghan government so that it is in the strongest possible position as Afghan-led political and economic efforts move forward. This will require continued progress by the Afghan government and continued international support. It is important to remember that we are not alone in this endeavor. Since President Obama spoke at West Point on December 1, ISAF Allies and partners have provided roughly 10,000 additional troops and several hundred additional trainers to support security efforts. More than 60 countries are providing civilian assistance to Afghanistan. Under the highly capable leadership of UN Special Representative Staffan de Mistura and Ambassador Sedwill, members of the international community are increasing their coordination on the ground and in the implementation of their programs. They are focusing on Afghan priorities and implementing them in a way that builds Afghan government capacity.
Simultaneously, we are engaging India, Russia, China, and the Central Asian republics to discuss ways that they can support regional stability while ensuring their legitimate interests. And building on President Obama’s June 2009 speech in Cairo, my team has made it a top priority to increase Muslim countries’ support for Afghanistan. Their contributions carry political weight beyond providing positive effects on the ground. To cite only a few of many examples:
The UAE, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia have posted their first resident Ambassadors to Kabul. Seven Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) countries participate in the international SRAP support group.
Turkey has greatly expanded its training of the Afghan National Security Forces.
The UAE has expanded financial assistance and is funding several innovative initiatives.
Malaysia and Egypt have committed important medical resources. It is hard to overstate the practical and symbolic influence of Muslim women doctors treating Afghan patients.
As President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and General Petraeus have emphasized, our civilian mission is crucial to the progress of our overall strategy in Afghanistan. Additionally, our civilian programs provide a foundation for our long-term commitment to helping the Afghan people rebuild from 30 years of endless war. While our military mission in Afghanistan is not open-ended, our civilian commitment will endure long after our combat troops come home. It is essential that we remain focused on our objectives and adapt our strategy to conditions on the ground, while also allowing time for our new programs to demonstrate progress.
Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today. I look forward to a continued dialogue on these issues and am pleased to take your questions.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building
9:40 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Please be seated.
Before I begin today, let me acknowledge, first of all, Your Excellencies, all the ambassadors who are in attendance. I also want to acknowledge both the civilians and our military personnel that are about to be deployed to the region. And I am very grateful to all of you for your extraordinary work.
I want to acknowledge General David Petraeus, who’s here, and has been doing an outstanding job at CENTCOM, and we appreciate him. I want to thank Bruce Reidel — Bruce is down at the end here — who has worked extensively on our strategic review. I want to acknowledge Karl Eikenberry, who’s here, and is our Ambassador-designate to Afghanistan. And to my national security team, thanks for their outstanding work.
Today, I’m announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. And this marks the conclusion of a careful policy review, led by Bruce, that I ordered as soon as I took office. My administration has heard from our military commanders, as well as our diplomats. We’ve consulted with the Afghan and Pakistani governments, with our partners and our NATO allies, and with other donors and international organizations. We’ve also worked closely with members of Congress here at home. And now I’d like to speak clearly and candidly to the American people.
The situation is increasingly perilous. It’s been more than seven years since the Taliban was removed from power, yet war rages on, and insurgents control parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Attacks against our troops, our NATO allies, and the Afghan government have risen steadily. And most painfully, 2008 was the deadliest year of the war for American forces.
Many people in the United States — and many in partner countries that have sacrificed so much — have a simple question: What is our purpose in Afghanistan? After so many years, they ask, why do our men and women still fight and die there? And they deserve a straightforward answer.
So let me be clear: Al Qaeda and its allies — the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks — are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the United States homeland from its safe haven in Pakistan. And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban — or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged — that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.
The future of Afghanistan is inextricably linked to the future of its neighbor, Pakistan. In the nearly eight years since 9/11, al Qaeda and its extremist allies have moved across the border to the remote areas of the Pakistani frontier. This almost certainly includes al Qaeda’s leadership: Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. They have used this mountainous terrain as a safe haven to hide, to train terrorists, to communicate with followers, to plot attacks, and to send fighters to support the insurgency in Afghanistan. For the American people, this border region has become the most dangerous place in the world.
But this is not simply an American problem — far from it. It is, instead, an international security challenge of the highest order. Terrorist attacks in London and Bali were tied to al Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan, as were attacks in North Africa and the Middle East, in Islamabad and in Kabul. If there is a major attack on an Asian, European, or African city, it, too, is likely to have ties to al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan. The safety of people around the world is at stake.
For the Afghan people, a return to Taliban rule would condemn their country to brutal governance, international isolation, a paralyzed economy, and the denial of basic human rights to the Afghan people — especially women and girls. The return in force of al Qaeda terrorists who would accompany the core Taliban leadership would cast Afghanistan under the shadow of perpetual violence.
As President, my greatest responsibility is to protect the American people. We are not in Afghanistan to control that country or to dictate its future. We are in Afghanistan to confront a common enemy that threatens the United States, our friends and our allies, and the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan who have suffered the most at the hands of violent extremists.
So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future. That’s the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that could not be more just. And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same: We will defeat you.
To achieve our goals, we need a stronger, smarter and comprehensive strategy. To focus on the greatest threat to our people, America must no longer deny resources to Afghanistan because of the war in Iraq. To enhance the military, governance and economic capacity of Afghanistan and Pakistan, we have to marshal international support. And to defeat an enemy that heeds no borders or laws of war, we must recognize the fundamental connection between the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan — which is why I’ve appointed Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who is here, to serve as Special Representative for both countries, and to work closely with General Petraeus to integrate our civilian and military efforts.
Let me start by addressing the way forward in Pakistan.
The United States has great respect for the Pakistani people. They have a rich history and have struggled against long odds to sustain their democracy. The people of Pakistan want the same things that we want: an end to terror, access to basic services, the opportunity to live their dreams, and the security that can only come with the rule of law. The single greatest threat to that future comes from al Qaeda and their extremist allies, and that is why we must stand together.
The terrorists within Pakistan’s borders are not simply enemies of America or Afghanistan — they are a grave and urgent danger to the people of Pakistan. Al Qaeda and other violent extremists have killed several thousand Pakistanis since 9/11. They’ve killed many Pakistani soldiers and police. They assassinated Benazir Bhutto. They’ve blown up buildings, derailed foreign investment, and threatened the stability of the state. So make no mistake: al Qaeda and its extremist allies are a cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within.
It’s important for the American people to understand that Pakistan needs our help in going after al Qaeda. This is no simple task. The tribal regions are vast, they are rugged, and they are often ungoverned. And that’s why we must focus our military assistance on the tools, training and support that Pakistan needs to root out the terrorists. And after years of mixed results, we will not, and cannot, provide a blank check.
Pakistan must demonstrate its commitment to rooting out al Qaeda and the violent extremists within its borders. And we will insist that action be taken — one way or another — when we have intelligence about high-level terrorist targets.
The government’s ability to destroy these safe havens is tied to its own strength and security. To help Pakistan weather the economic crisis, we must continue to work with the IMF, the World Bank and other international partners. To lessen tensions between two nuclear-armed nations that too often teeter on the edge of escalation and confrontation, we must pursue constructive diplomacy with both India and Pakistan. To avoid the mistakes of the past, we must make clear that our relationship with Pakistan is grounded in support for Pakistan’s democratic institutions and the Pakistani people. And to demonstrate through deeds as well as words a commitment that is enduring, we must stand for lasting opportunity.
A campaign against extremism will not succeed with bullets or bombs alone. Al Qaeda’s offers the people of Pakistan nothing but destruction. We stand for something different. So today, I am calling upon Congress to pass a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by John Kerry and Richard Lugar that authorizes $1.5 billion in direct support to the Pakistani people every year over the next five years — resources that will build schools and roads and hospitals, and strengthen Pakistan’s democracy. I’m also calling on Congress to pass a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Maria Cantwell, Chris Van Hollen and Peter Hoekstra that creates opportunity zones in the border regions to develop the economy and bring hope to places plagued with violence. And we will ask our friends and allies to do their part — including at the donors conference in Tokyo next month.
I don’t ask for this support lightly. These are challenging times. Resources are stretched. But the American people must understand that this is a down payment on our own future — because the security of America and Pakistan is shared. Pakistan’s government must be a stronger partner in destroying these safe havens, and we must isolate al Qaeda from the Pakistani people. And these steps in Pakistan are also indispensable to our efforts in Afghanistan, which will see no end to violence if insurgents move freely back and forth across the border.
Security demands a new sense of shared responsibility. And that’s why we will launch a standing, trilateral dialogue among the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our nations will meet regularly, with Secretaries Clinton and Secretary Gates leading our effort. Together, we must enhance intelligence sharing and military cooperation along the border, while addressing issues of common concern like trade, energy, and economic development.
This is just one part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent Afghanistan from becoming the al Qaeda safe haven that it was before 9/11. To succeed, we and our friends and allies must reverse the Taliban’s gains, and promote a more capable and accountable Afghan government.
Our troops have fought bravely against a ruthless enemy. Our civilians have made great sacrifices. Our allies have borne a heavy burden. Afghans have suffered and sacrificed for their future. But for six years, Afghanistan has been denied the resources that it demands because of the war in Iraq. Now, we must make a commitment that can accomplish our goals.
I’ve already ordered the deployment of 17,000 troops that had been requested by General McKiernan for many months. These soldiers and Marines will take the fight to the Taliban in the south and the east, and give us a greater capacity to partner with Afghan security forces and to go after insurgents along the border. This push will also help provide security in advance of the important presidential elections in Afghanistan in August.
At the same time, we will shift the emphasis of our mission to training and increasing the size of Afghan security forces, so that they can eventually take the lead in securing their country. That’s how we will prepare Afghans to take responsibility for their security, and how we will ultimately be able to bring our own troops home.
For three years, our commanders have been clear about the resources they need for training. And those resources have been denied because of the war in Iraq. Now, that will change. The additional troops that we deployed have already increased our training capacity. And later this spring we will deploy approximately 4,000 U.S. troops to train Afghan security forces. For the first time, this will truly resource our effort to train and support the Afghan army and police. Every American unit in Afghanistan will be partnered with an Afghan unit, and we will seek additional trainers from our NATO allies to ensure that every Afghan unit has a coalition partner. We will accelerate our efforts to build an Afghan army of 134,000 and a police force of 82,000 so that we can meet these goals by 2011 — and increases in Afghan forces may very well be needed as our plans to turn over security responsibility to the Afghans go forward.
This push must be joined by a dramatic increase in our civilian effort. Afghanistan has an elected government, but it is undermined by corruption and has difficulty delivering basic services to its people. The economy is undercut by a booming narcotics trade that encourages criminality and funds the insurgency. The people of Afghanistan seek the promise of a better future. Yet once again, we’ve seen the hope of a new day darkened by violence and uncertainty.
So to advance security, opportunity and justice — not just in Kabul, but from the bottom up in the provinces — we need agricultural specialists and educators, engineers and lawyers. That’s how we can help the Afghan government serve its people and develop an economy that isn’t dominated by illicit drugs. And that’s why I’m ordering a substantial increase in our civilians on the ground. That’s also why we must seek civilian support from our partners and allies, from the United Nations and international aid organizations — an effort that Secretary Clinton will carry forward next week in The Hague.
At a time of economic crisis, it’s tempting to believe that we can shortchange this civilian effort. But make no mistake: Our efforts will fail in Afghanistan and Pakistan if we don’t invest in their future. And that’s why my budget includes indispensable investments in our State Department and foreign assistance programs. These investments relieve the burden on our troops. They contribute directly to security. They make the American people safer. And they save us an enormous amount of money in the long run — because it’s far cheaper to train a policeman to secure his or her own village than to help a farmer seed a crop — or to help a farmer seed a crop than it is to send our troops to fight tour after tour of duty with no transition to Afghan responsibility.
As we provide these resources, the days of unaccountable spending, no-bid contracts, and wasteful reconstruction must end. So my budget will increase funding for a strong Inspector General at both the State Department and USAID, and include robust funding for the special inspector generals for Afghan Reconstruction.
And I want to be clear: We cannot turn a blind eye to the corruption that causes Afghans to lose faith in their own leaders. Instead, we will seek a new compact with the Afghan government that cracks down on corrupt behavior, and sets clear benchmarks, clear metrics for international assistance so that it is used to provide for the needs of the Afghan people.
In a country with extreme poverty that’s been at war for decades, there will also be no peace without reconciliation among former enemies. Now, I have no illusion that this will be easy. In Iraq, we had success in reaching out to former adversaries to isolate and target al Qaeda in Iraq. We must pursue a similar process in Afghanistan, while understanding that it is a very different country.
There is an uncompromising core of the Taliban. They must be met with force, and they must be defeated. But there are also those who’ve taken up arms because of coercion, or simply for a price. These Afghans must have the option to choose a different course. And that’s why we will work with local leaders, the Afghan government, and international partners to have a reconciliation process in every province. As their ranks dwindle, an enemy that has nothing to offer the Afghan people but terror and repression must be further isolated. And we will continue to support the basic human rights of all Afghans — including women and girls.
Going forward, we will not blindly stay the course. Instead, we will set clear metrics to measure progress and hold ourselves accountable. We’ll consistently assess our efforts to train Afghan security forces and our progress in combating insurgents. We will measure the growth of Afghanistan’s economy, and its illicit narcotics production. And we will review whether we are using the right tools and tactics to make progress towards accomplishing our goals.
None of the steps that I’ve outlined will be easy; none should be taken by America alone. The world cannot afford the price that will come due if Afghanistan slides back into chaos or al Qaeda operates unchecked. We have a shared responsibility to act — not because we seek to project power for its own sake, but because our own peace and security depends on it. And what’s at stake at this time is not just our own security — it’s the very idea that free nations can come together on behalf of our common security. That was the founding cause of NATO six decades ago, and that must be our common purpose today.
My administration is committed to strengthening international organizations and collective action, and that will be my message next week in Europe. As America does more, we will ask others to join us in doing their part. From our partners and NATO allies, we will seek not simply troops, but rather clearly defined capabilities: supporting the Afghan elections, training Afghan security forces, a greater civilian commitment to the Afghan people. For the United Nations, we seek greater progress for its mandate to coordinate international action and assistance, and to strengthen Afghan institutions.
And finally, together with the United Nations, we will forge a new Contact Group for Afghanistan and Pakistan that brings together all who should have a stake in the security of the region — our NATO allies and other partners, but also the Central Asian states, the Gulf nations and Iran; Russia, India and China. None of these nations benefit from a base for al Qaeda terrorists, and a region that descends into chaos. All have a stake in the promise of lasting peace and security and development.
That is true, above all, for the coalition that has fought together in Afghanistan, side by side with Afghans. The sacrifices have been enormous. Nearly 700 Americans have lost their lives. Troops from over 20 countries have also paid the ultimate price. All Americans honor the service and cherish the friendship of those who have fought, and worked, and bled by our side. And all Americans are awed by the service of our own men and women in uniform, who’ve borne a burden as great as any other generation’s. They and their families embody the example of selfless sacrifice.
I remind everybody, the United States of America did not choose to fight a war in Afghanistan. Nearly 3,000 of our people were killed on September 11, 2001, for doing nothing more than going about their daily lives. Al Qaeda and its allies have since killed thousands of people in many countries. Most of the blood on their hands is the blood of Muslims, who al Qaeda has killed and maimed in far greater number than any other people. That is the future that al Qaeda is offering to the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan — a future without hope or opportunity; a future without justice or peace.
So understand, the road ahead will be long and there will be difficult days ahead. But we will seek lasting partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan that promise a new day for their people. And we will use all elements of our national power to defeat al Qaeda, and to defend America, our allies, and all who seek a better future. Because the United States of America stands for peace and security, justice and opportunity. That is who we are, and that is what history calls on us to do once more.
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
10:02 A.M. EDT
I am deeply saddened by the assassination of Pakistan’s Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti today in Islamabad, and condemn in the strongest possible terms this horrific act of violence. We offer our profound condolences to his family, loved ones and all who knew and worked with him. Minister Bhatti fought for and sacrificed his life for the universal values that Pakistanis, Americans and people around the world hold dear – the right to speak one’s mind, to practice one’s religion as one chooses, and to be free from discrimination based on one’s background or beliefs. He was clear-eyed about the risks of speaking out, and, despite innumerable death threats, he insisted he had a duty to his fellow Pakistanis to defend equal rights and tolerance from those who preach division, hate, and violence. He most courageously challenged the blasphemy laws of Pakistan under which individuals have been prosecuted for speaking their minds or practicing their own faiths. Those who committed this crime should be brought to justice, and those who share Mr. Bhatti’s vision of tolerance and religious freedom must be able to live free from fear. Minister Bhatti will be missed by all who knew him, and the United States will continue to stand with those who are dedicated to his vision of tolerance and dignity for all human beings.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the brutal stoning of a woman in Orakzai, Pakistan, allegedly by members of the Pakistani Taliban, which is depicted in a video circulating on the internet.
This vicious attack, carried out as a crowd of onlookers watched, violates all norms of human decency and is a chilling example of the cowardly disregard violent extremists have for human life. There is no justification for such barbaric and cruel treatment of a fellow human being.
QUESTION: What is Human Trafficking?
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Human trafficking is kind of an umbrella term at this point? It came up in the late 1990s as a euphemism for all of the different things that happened involved with reducing somebody and holding them in a condition of servitude. It’s basically involuntary servitude. And as Secretary Clinton, we should just call it what it is – a modern form of slavery.
QUESTION: The “3Ps”: Protection, Prevention, Prosecution
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Fighting slavery is something that everyone can do. It’s not just for the government. It’s not just for international actors. It’s something that you can do by starting to ask questions. Is the shirt that I’m wearing made of cotton that was picked by a child slave somewhere in another country? Is the orange juice that I’m drinking something that was picked by a slave here in the United States? But then also by volunteering: there are plenty of shelters, there are plenty of organizations that are helping people both here and abroad that could use the help. Not just the financial assistance or the awareness raising, but actually going down and working with these victims. People who own businesses – probably the best thing they could do – give a job to a survivor. So in other words, there are a lot of things that you can do to fight slavery. It’s not something that should just be relegated to the police or the prosecutors.
QUESTION: Human Trafficking & The Impact on the American People
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Human trafficking affects Americans because not only is this a crime that happens in other countries, it’s also a crime that happens here at home. It’s in our own communities, whether it is farm workers out in the fields in parts of the southeastern United States; whether it is domestic servants in the homes right around the corner; or girls or women who are under control of a pimp being and being brutalized in our hometowns. It’s a problem not just overseas, it’s also a problem here at home.
QUESTION: Human Trafficking & The World
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: The paradigm under which we’re operating in the Obama Administration is the “three p” approach. This is the world standard. It came out of the late years of the Clinton Administration. Basically, what is says is that you can’t do only one thing and fight trafficking. Slavery has to be fought on three different fronts: prosecution, prevention, and protection. You can’t just go out and arrest people and not help the victims and expect that something will change. You also can’t just help the victims and create a type of modern Underground Railroad; that wouldn’t put the traffickers out of business they’d continue to find more victims. Everything has to go inexorably towards the idea of preventing slavery in the modern era. And, so these three concepts prevention, protection, and prosecution have to be done simultaneously or else we’re going to fail in this fight against modern slavery.
QUESTION: Global Partners Working to Free Modern Slaves
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Well there are a number of things that the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking does throughout the year. We obviously put out the annual trafficking in report, which enables us to look at the countries of the world and see how their doing and we run programs around the world. But then, there is also an action oriented aspect to the office that many people might not be aware of. There are several instances where we can show some successes that are directly attributable to what we do in G/TIP. For instance a couple of years ago, a group of people in Pakistan started coming together to try to get themselves out of slavery they found a lawyer who had been willing to go to court and try to get them emancipated. They were in debt bondage, which means they were paying off debts that their even sometimes great grandparents had taken out in the 1920s. The response of the local, I guess for lack of a better word, warlords, was quick and it was dramatic. Last fall, they were rounded up and confined with guards. Their lawyers were arrested by the people who reported to these war lords, the feudal lords. And it was only because of the intervention of the Office to monitor trafficking and Ambassador Holbrooke working with the Pakistani government that we were able to get a raid put together and liberate almost 200 slaves in Pakistan. That was the kind of combating that we see from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
QUESTION: Join the Anti-Trafficking Movement
AMBASSADOR CDEBACA: Human trafficking destabilizes governments, destabilizes communities. One of my friends that works over at the USDA said it probably the best. You can’t have food security if the hands that picked the crops are not free. So we are talking about a situation where you’ve got corruption that follows it in the wake of human trafficking, you’ve got organized crime, you’ve got destabilization of entire regions because the human traffickers have so much sway.