USA / Pakistan / Afghanistan

Afghanistan, Pak­istan Vow to Increase Coop­er­a­tion

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2009 — The pres­i­dents of Afghanistan and Pak­istan vowed to work close­ly togeth­er to defeat the com­mon threat to both coun­tries: a resur­gent Tal­iban.

Afghanistan’s Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai and Pak­istani Pres­i­dent Asif Ali Zardari spoke dur­ing meet­ings with U.S. gov­ern­ment lead­ers at the State Depart­ment today. They are sched­uled to meet with Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma at the White House lat­er this after­noon.

Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton said the Unit­ed States, Pak­istan and Afghanistan have a com­mon cause against the Tal­iban and must work togeth­er in many areas to defeat the extrem­ist threat. Many mem­bers of the Oba­ma Cab­i­net and oth­er high-rank­ing U.S. gov­ern­ment offi­cials joined Clin­ton and the pres­i­dents.

“The pres­ence of this dis­tin­guished group of U.S. offi­cials from dif­fer­ent fed­er­al agen­cies reflects Pres­i­dent Obama’s and my strong belief that pro­mot­ing peace and sta­bil­i­ty in Afghanistan and Pak­istan must be an all-gov­ern­ment effort,” Clin­ton said. “This is not just the State Department’s respon­si­bil­i­ty or the Defense Department’s. But it is all of us work­ing togeth­er.”

Afghanistan and Pak­istan are “con­joined twins,” Karzai said. “Our suf­fer­ing is shared. Our joys are always shared. The life that we live is affect­ed by the oppor­tu­ni­ties that we have and the lack of oppor­tu­ni­ties that occur because of the cir­cum­stances in which we live today.”

Pak­istani-Afghan rela­tions have not always been smooth, but Karzai pledged to work close­ly with Zardari to bring more con­fi­dence and trust to the rela­tion­ship. He said he wants to cre­ate “a work­ing envi­ron­ment in which the two coun­tries togeth­er can wage a more effec­tive strug­gle against the men­ace of ter­ror­ism and the vio­lence that rad­i­cal­ism caus­es, both in Pak­istan and in Afghanistan, and the dan­ger that they pose to you in Amer­i­ca and the rest of the world.”

Speak­ing through a trans­la­tor, Zardari called Karzai “my dear broth­er,” and also vowed to nur­ture coop­er­a­tion between the two coun­tries. He said Pak­istan car­ries the bur­den of con­fronting al-Qai­da and the Tal­iban, but that democ­ra­cies are up to the chal­lenge.

Zardari thanked the Unit­ed States for stand­ing by the new demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly elect­ed gov­ern­ment in Pak­istan.

“We thank the Unit­ed States for its sup­port for democ­ra­cy, for secu­ri­ty in Pak­istan, and look for­ward to fur­ther sup­port,” he said. “Afghanistan, Pak­istan, the Unit­ed States are all vic­tims of ter­ror – as is, indeed, the entire world. Our threat is com­mon, and our respon­si­bil­i­ties should be shared. I am here to assure you that we should share this world in which we are.”

Zardari said that Pak­istan will deliv­er.

“The peo­ple of Pak­istan stand with the peo­ple of Unit­ed States and the peo­ple of Afghanistan,” he said. “We stand with our broth­er Karzai and the peo­ple of Afghanistan against this com­mon threat, this men­ace, which I have called can­cer. This is a can­cer. It needs to be done away with.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)