Australia — United States’ Afghanistan-Pakistan Strategy Review

I wel­come the Unit­ed States’ Decem­ber Review of its Afghanistan-Pak­istan strat­e­gy, announced by Pres­i­dent Oba­ma on 16 Decem­ber 2010.
This Review has been an impor­tant oppor­tu­ni­ty to assess whether the imple­men­ta­tion of the Afghanistan-Pak­istan strat­e­gy and the tran­si­tion to Afghan respon­si­bil­i­ty for secu­ri­ty is on track.

It has tak­en some time for the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to get that strat­e­gy right, and match that with suf­fi­cient resources. The Gov­ern­ment wel­comes the Review’s assess­ment that progress is being made. This is in line with Australia’s own obser­va­tions in Uruz­gan Province. Nev­er­the­less, our task is to ensure that this progress and the gains we have made are con­sol­i­dat­ed and not reversed.

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma has iden­ti­fied a num­ber of chal­lenges in this Review. The most sig­nif­i­cant of these will be improv­ing gov­er­nance with­in Afghanistan, and sup­port­ing Pakistan’s efforts to address the threat posed by vio­lent extrem­ists.

On this first chal­lenge, the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, includ­ing Aus­tralia, is work­ing with the Gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan to improve gov­er­nance and address cor­rup­tion. More broad­ly, as the Prime Min­is­ter and I made clear dur­ing the recent Par­lia­men­tary debate, Aus­tralia expects the Afghan Gov­ern­ment to con­tin­ue to make progress on com­bat­ing cor­rup­tion.

We rein­forced this expec­ta­tion dur­ing the NATO Sum­mit in Lis­bon in Novem­ber, where Pres­i­dent Karzai also reaf­firmed his com­mit­ment to anti-cor­rup­tion efforts. On the sec­ond chal­lenge, the Gov­ern­ment believes that the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty must engage with Pak­istan, in con­cert with efforts in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan-Pak­istan bor­der is high­ly per­me­able and remains a threat to sus­tain­able progress in sta­bil­is­ing Afghanistan.

Aus­tralia is work­ing close­ly with Pak­istan to improve its capa­bil­i­ty to address the threat posed by vio­lent extrem­ists, sig­nif­i­cant­ly increas­ing our defence engage­ment with Pak­istan over the past two years.

These chal­lenges will require a greater focus over the com­ing year. But the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty now has the right strat­e­gy. The Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to work­ing with the Unit­ed States and our part­ners in the Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force to achieve a secure and sta­ble Afghanistan.

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

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