Washington: Underlining that the Obama administration has made a "strategic priority" to strengthen its partnership with Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the US efforts in that country was vital for American success in Afghanistan.
"In Pakistan, our efforts are vital to success in Afghanistan, but also to our own American security. We`ve made it a strategic priority to strengthen our partnership with the Pakistani people," Hillary said before Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programmes.
“I`m under no illusion that success in this arena will come quickly or easily. But think about where we were a year ago. The extremists were 100 miles from Islamabad. They met little resistance in launching attacks on American troops from border areas. Since then, the Pakistani Government has launched important offences in Swat, South Waziristan and throughout the country,” she said.
Hillary said the US is moving in the right direction and the progress that they have made is possible because the US has demonstrated a clear commitment to work with the people and the Government of Pakistan.
"Yesterday at the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, we worked very hard - in fact, late into the night - to advance the resolve that we have begun building with the Pakistani leadership. The USD 370 million we`re requesting for assistance and operations in this supplemental will allow us to expand civilian cooperation at a critical moment," Hillary said.
The top US diplomat argued that the military offensives have created new humanitarian needs that, if not addressed immediately, could make these areas ripe for extremism.
"And in much of the country, water, energy, and economic problems create new challenges. So our success depends on rapidly and sustainably scaling up our efforts, especially in high-impact projects that visibly demonstrate our long-term
commitment on helping the Pakistanis build capacity while ensuring accountability," she noted.
"What we are trying to do in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in particular, is to build in safeguards to have certification systems in place so that we can hold entities that we contribute funds to account. It is an ongoing challenge. I`m not going to sit here and tell you that it isn`t," Hillary said when Senator Patrick J Leahy expressed his concern about wasteful expenditure and corruption in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“We are beefing up our presence in both Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to have greater oversight accountability, monitoring of the funds. It is something that we take very seriously,” she said.
“It`s been challenging to get those people under the conflict circumstances in Afghanistan, but we`ve made a lot of progress. We`ve quadrupled the number of people that we actually have on the ground in Afghanistan,” Hillary said.
And in Pakistan, that`s one of the areas that Secretary Gates has been working on with the Pakistanis so that we can have a better oversight mechanism on the funding part of it. But I`ll let him respond to the second part of your question, she added.