Afghan-Pakistan Coop. Needed for Border Security
Afghan-Pakistan Cooperation Needed To Improve Border Security
National Security Advisor Hadley thanks Pakistan for aiding security efforts
President Bush’s national security advisor, Stephen Hadley, thanked the Pakistani government for its efforts to strengthen security along its border with Afghanistan, but said the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan should coordinate more closely in order to address the threat posed by the Taliban and al-Qaida in the border area.
“Afghanistan, Pakistan and U.S. forces need to work together to do more, to address the security situation,” Hadley told reporters September 27 following meetings with Pakistani government officials. “This involves greater information sharing, greater intelligence sharing, coordination of activities on both sides of the border and a better dialog to insure we have a common understanding of the problem.”
Hadley acknowledged that the Afghans likely find it difficult to have foreign troops operating on their soil, but said the people he met in Afghanistan expressed appreciation for the role of the coalition forces in ousting the Taliban and said they do not want the troops to leave until Afghan forces are capable of providing security.
Hadley said the United States would cooperate with the Pakistani people in their efforts to establish a more participatory political system and achieve greater economic prosperity.
“[T]he challenge for us is to turn these areas of potential cooperation into concrete projects,” he said. “The criteria for projects will be obviously to support Pakistan’s own plan for itself, but also to enhance the process of reform and prosperity here.”
Hadley also spoke about the international community’s concern over Iran’s nuclear program.
“It is our hope that Iran, seeing the collective will of the international community, will return to the negotiations that it has had with the three countries – France, Germany and U.K. [United Kingdom] – representing the European Community,” he said.
Following is the transcript of Hadley’s remarks to the press:
National Security Advisor
Islamabad Press Conference
6:15 p.m. Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Auditorium, U.S. Embassy Islamabad
Good evening friends. It’s my privilege to introduce to you Mr. Steven Hadley, National Security Advisor to the President of the United States. Mr. Hadley will make a few comments and then take your questions. When I call on you, please wait for the microphone; introduce yourself by name and organization. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much. We’ve had a very productive and useful visit here in Pakistan. Pakistan is one of our closest allies. The relationship between the United States and Pakistan is a good one and a strong one. It was very important for me to come here and to have discussions with the senior officials in the Pakistani Government. I was privileged to be able to meet with my counterpart, National Security Advisor Aziz. I was also able to meet with Foreign Minister Kasuri; and President Musharraf was kind enough to give us time to meet with him today.
This afternoon, we went up to Peshawar and went to the headquarters of the 11th Corps. We did that in order to pay tribute and thanks to those men and women who are in that corps and are really in the frontlines in the War on Terror, are taking risks but are also making progress; progress that is enhancing the security not only of Pakistan but also of the United States.
While we were there (Peshawar) we had an opportunity to visit the Sur Kamar School. This was a joint project between Pakistan and the United States (through USAID) and Japan. It is one of 130 schools that are going to be constructed in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. It is a terrific project. We think that it shows the commitment of the Government of Pakistan to education. And by that commitment they show that they are committed to a positive future for Pakistan because children are the future for both of our countries.
While there I was able to meet with the governor of the Northwest Frontier Province and talk with him a little bit about the challenges that he faces as well.
The conversations we had this morning reflected the long-standing and close relationship between our two countries. One of the topics was to address how to broaden and deepen the strategic relationship that already exists between our two countries, to develop a long-term agenda that will be tailored to the needs and plans of Pakistan. President Musharraf has laid out a bold agenda for the future of Pakistan and we want to do what we can to support and assist him in developing that agenda.
We also talked about the global War on Terror. I expressed appreciation to President Musharraf for the steps he and his country have taken. These have been bold steps, not without risk. They have made progress against Al-Qaeda and also increasingly against the Taliban. There is obviously more for both of our countries to do and things that we can do. We talked a little bit about what we can do together to enhance our progress in the War on Terror.
In that connection we also talked about the issue of democracy and the President’s freedom agenda. As you know, President Bush feels very strongly that the War on Terror will be won first by confronting the terrorists and depriving them of the things to operate; secondly over the long term, by advancing the cause of freedom and democracy to offer a vision of hope in contrast to the terrorist vision of despair and lack of freedom and oppression.
I had spent two days in Afghanistan before coming to Pakistan. This gave me an opportunity here in Pakistan to thank President Musharraf and the other members of his government for the contribution Pakistan made by strengthening the border with Afghanistan. This was an important step because it increased the security under which the Afghan elections were conducted. Those elections were very successful. They marked further progress of the Afghan people in their vision to build a free and democratic society.
We also talked about what can be done to deal with the issue of Taliban operating on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The activities of the Taliban in these areas threatens all of us. It threatens Afghanistan and the stability of Afghanistan, it threatens Pakistan, and it threatens my country. Taliban are killing American soldiers in Afghanistan, soldiers who are working to help advance the cause of freedom there. All three countries, therefore, have an interest in dealing with this problem and all three countries need to work together to enhance our ability to deal with this threat.
Finally we talked about regional issues, the agenda that President Musharraf and Prime Minister Singh are pursuing between India and Pakistan.
It was a very good visit. It reflects the close relationship between the United States and Pakistan. I would be pleased to answer your questions..
Question One -- Raja Asghar, Dawn (English daily)
Sir, when you were in Kabul you said that Pakistan and American forces have been sharing information. But you said that a lot more needs to be done. Do you plan or envisage any joint operations across the border or on the border, against Taliban and Al-Qaeda?
What we need to do, obviously there is information sharing that is already going on. We need to do more. We also need to talk about how to have a better coordination on the security side. Whenever you have a border – a border has two sides. To police that border requires cooperation of both sides.
Because of the role that my country is playing in South and Southeast Afghanistan, we have role to play as well. So my message in Afghanistan and also my message in Pakistan was really the same. Afghanistan, Pakistan and U.S. forces need to work together to do more, to address the security situation. This involves greater information sharing, greater intelligence sharing, coordination of activities on both sides of the border and a better dialog to insure we have a common understanding of the problem. That is what I think is required.
Question two -- Javed Sadiq, Nawa-I-Waqt (Urdu daily)
My question is that recently Pakistan has proposed erection of a fence on Pak-Afghan border to stop infiltration of Taliban and terrorists into Afghanistan. So what is your reaction to that proposal by Pakistan? The second part of my question is when will the President of the United States visit Pakistan?
Let me take the second part first. The President is very anxious to come to South Asia. He would be very anxious to meet with President Musharraf here in Pakistan. President Bush has had the opportunity to meet President Musharraf several times in the United States. It’s time for the President obviously to have an opportunity to do that here. The President would like to do that some time next year. We have to obviously talk with Pakistan to work a time that is consistent both with his schedule and the schedule of President Musharraf. It is clearly something that President Bush wants to do.
The issue of the fence is an issue obviously that Afghanistan and Pakistan will have to work out. As you know there are portions of that border where the terrain would make a fence very difficult. But also with a fence, it does no good unless the fence is manned. It needs to be manned by both sides. So what I have been focusing on is enhancing that cooperation and coordination between Afghanistan, Pakistan and U.S. forces in Afghanistan because in any event that is going to be the key to dealing with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda issue on the border.
Question three -- Shaukat Piracha, AAJ TV (private cable network)
You said that Pakistan and USA have a long-term strategic relation and today you talked about enhancing that. But Pakistan has been consistently demanding that what concessions in civilian use of nuclear technology you have granted to India, you should also grant to Pakistan in this region. What are the hurdles and what is the policy of the President Bush government in this regard?
Our overall goal with respect to each of these relationships is to develop things that we can do with India on the one hand and things that we can do with Pakistan on the other that will strengthen our respective relationships and that will also enhance the plans of each country for their own future.
India has a plan. It involves potentially heavy investment in civil nuclear power. In our discussions with India we’ve ensured that any cooperation is focused strictly on a peaceful nuclear power program. India has in turn undertaken to take steps to insure that any such cooperation does not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction.
The United States needs to have its own program with Pakistan that is tailored to the needs of Pakistan and most of all, and most of all is tailored to President Musharraf’s and his government’s vision for the way forward for Pakistan. That’s what we will be talking about as we try to develop a broader and deeper relationship. It will be tailored to what Pakistan needs and what Pakistan plans, and how we can support and strengthen that effort.
Question four -- Zahid Hussain, Newsline (English monthly)
When you talk about coordinated action, does it also mean there is some kind of suggestion for a coordinated military action on both sides of the border?
I didn’t use the term “coordinated action.” What I said was coordinating in the security realm. And obviously there is more that Afghanistan can do on its side of the border, and the United States, because its forces are there, can help. There’s obviously more that Pakistan can do on its side of the border. These activities will be more effective if they are coordinated. That is to say, things done by Pakistan on its side of the border, coordinated to make sense and complement things that Afghanistan and the United States forces might be able to do on the Afghanistan side of the border. It is this kind of cooperation and coordination, and additional information and intelligence sharing that we think can help all three countries deal with this problem.
Question five -- Naveed Ahmed, The News (English daily)
There has been a lot of talk here in Pakistan with regard to the presence of U.S. and Afghan forces alongside the Pakistan-Afghan border. And it is said that their presence in terms of ratio is minimal in relation to the presence of Pakistani troops. Is there a plan to enhance the presence of your troops alongside the Pakistan border?
We have troops on the Afghan side of the Afghan-Pakistan border, and those troops are carrying on the operations of which we know. There is an evolution going on in the security situation in Afghanistan. As you know, NATO is increasing its role, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has expanded its presence into the western part of Afghanistan and is going to be extending its presence into the south. But the United States forces will continue to be there. We are part of ISAF, we have some PRTs, Provincial Reconstruction Teams, that are part of, or will come under ISAF. We also, however, have our own Provincial Reconstruction Teams, and our own forces that engaged in counter-terror activities. This is mostly in the south and southeast. And that activity will continue with a configuration of forces appropriate to the need.
Question six -- Afzal Bajwa, The Nation (English daily)
I wanted to ask you with reference to your comment, as you said, you discussed with President Musharraf his future agenda, what he thinks could be best for Pakistan in the near future, and you said that you would see what you could support him on that. I want to ask with reference to a lot of talk going on in Pakistan about moving towards a presidential system. Is there anything to do with that, or can you elaborate on that?
I did not talk specifically about my conversations with President Musharraf. It is our practice that those conversations should be confidential. What I tried to do was give you a fair characterization of the kinds of discussions that went on in all of the conversations we had this morning. And indeed most of these are subjects that have been part of the Pakistan-United States dialogue for some time.
Now, obviously the kinds of internal issues, such as presidential versus parliamentary systems, are issues for the Pakistani people to decide. What we can do is support, obviously in a general way, the efforts to have a process to expand the participation of Pakistani people in their governance, we can do a lot in terms of expanding and supporting the agenda for economic progress. We are in the process of concluding a bilateral investment treaty, that will enhance foreign investment in Pakistan, and will help contribute to growth in Pakistan. These are the things that we can talk to Pakistani leaders about. And the challenge for us is to turn these areas of potential cooperation into concrete projects. The criteria for projects will be obviously to support Pakistan’s own plan for itself, but also to enhance the process of reform and prosperity here.
Question seven -- Tahir Khan, NNI (Pakistani wire service)
When you were in Afghanistan, two American soldiers were killed, one in Kandahar, and one in Kunnar, near Assalabad. So please tell me, because these incidents are happening, how you assess the Taliban now; where do they stand? And the second part of my question is would the American government respond positively to Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s request that the American forces should stop major operations, they should consult the Afghan government when they are searching homes?
Let me take the second one first. While we were in Afghanistan, one thing that struck our delegation was that every speaker and person we met started out the conversation by expressing appreciation for the role that United States and Coalition forces have played in liberating Afghanistan from the Taliban and from Al-Qaeda. Second, we also heard a number of people express appreciation for what we are doing to build the institutions that will allow Afghanistan to provide for its own security; training of the army, training of the police. Third, we also heard people say, “do not leave before we are ready to take responsibility for our own security.”
Look, it is a difficult thing for any country to have foreign troops on its soil. It can lead to misunderstanding, and it is difficult for any people to accept. One of the things we tried to do was to enhance our coordination with the Afghan government. One of the things that enhances that is that increasingly operations taken on by Coalition forces are being taken on jointly with Afghanistan forces. And as that pattern emerges, we believe that some of the unfortunate incidents that you’re referring to, the likelihood of that is reduced.
But there is still a threat in Afghanistan; still a threat from Taliban and also from Al-Qaeda. The Taliban views democracy in Afghanistan as a great threat. They are doing all they can to prevent it. We think that increasingly as the political process moves forward in Afghanistan, they will have less and less support. But there will be no substitute for the United States and Afghanistan forces working together to take on the Taliban, and to confront the terrorists and kill or capture them. As part of that, it will also be important to solve the security problems associated with the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan in the way that I described earlier.
Question eight -- Qamar Chaudary, Online News Agency (Pakistani wire service)
What do you say about the gas pipeline from India, Pakistan and Iran, and the other question is about the nuclear program of Iran, and how can Pakistan help America on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program.
The Iranian nuclear program obviously is a source of concern for us. Their nuclear activities were hidden from the IAEA – that’s the International Atomic Energy Agency – for almost fifteen years, and I’m talking specifically about the enrichment activities. We focus on those activities because it is enrichment that would produce nuclear materials that Iran could use for a nuclear weapon. The international community as a whole is suspicious of Iran’s intentions precisely because for over fifteen years they hid these activities from the IAEA, the agency that is supposed to oversee and ensure that those activities are for peaceful purposes. It has come to the attention of the international community; the issue is before the IAEA Board of Governors. A resolution was recently adopted by the Board of Governors. That resolution concludes that Iran is not in compliance with its obligations, and that there should be a referral of this issue to the UN Security Council.
The timing of that referral is still to be determined. It is our hope that Iran, seeing the collective will of the international community, will return to the negotiations that it has had with the three countries – France, Germany and UK – representing the European Community. We believe that negotiation is the right approach, and that forum is the right approach. But it will require Iran to come back and resume negotiations. It will also require Iran to come back in compliance with the first agreement that was produced by that negotiation, that’s the Paris Treaty, of about a year or so ago.
We did not have a lot of discussion about the pipeline issue. I can say generally that the United States recognizes and supports the need for development in this part of the world. Energy is obviously a key element for that development. So we need to work with countries of the region, including Pakistan, to ensure access to adequate, secure supplies of energy, done in a way that is environmentally sound, and will enhance development. It’s a very complicated question, we are in discussion on the issue of individual pipelines, but that was really not a subject of the discussion we had today.
Thank you very much.