News / USA

US Diplomats: Afghan, Pakistan Engagement Necessary

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Kerry, left, with committee's ranking Republican, Senator Lugar, Washington, Feb. 2011.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Kerry, left, with committee's ranking Republican, Senator Lugar, Washington, Feb. 2011.
TEXT SIZE - +
Michael Bowman
CAPITOL HILL -- President Barack Obama's nominees for the next U.S. ambassadors to Pakistan and Afghanistan testified Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
 
After holding diplomatic posts in the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan, Richard Olson hopes to become U.S. ambassador to Pakistan. At his Senate confirmation hearing, Olson said that recent tensions between Washington and Islamabad do not change the fact that a stable and democratic Pakistan is in America’s interest.
 
"Continued engagement with Pakistan is necessary to pursue the strategic defeat of al-Qaida," he said. "Engagement is necessary to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan, to encourage regional stability, and to support political and economic stability within Pakistan itself. Instability in Pakistan would undermine what we are trying to achieve in the region."
 
James Cunningham, who President Obama nominated to be America’s top diplomat in Kabul, where he currently serves as deputy ambassador, said significant challenges remain in Afghanistan, but that U.S. efforts are bringing results.
 
"Today, the pieces of a long-term, enduring support structure for Afghanistan's continuing progress and development are now in place," he said. "This makes clear to Afghans and the region that the security transition does not mean we are abandoning Afghanistan. And the Taliban appear to be taking notice. For the first time in a decade, they are debating and signaling an openness to negotiations."
 
Olson and Cunningham testified at a time of growing pessimism and frustration among many lawmakers over a perceived lack of progress in Afghanistan and difficult U.S.-Pakistan relations. The Senate committee’s chairman, Democrat John Kerry (D-Mass.), summed it up by saying, “Obviously, there is no shortage of challenge here.”
 
Other legislators were more blunt. The committee's top Republican, Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), questioned the basis for continued, large-scale U.S. military commitments in Afghanistan.
 
"The country is important but does not hold that level of strategic value for us -- especially at a time when our nation is confronting a debt crisis, our armed forces have been strained by repeated combat deployments, and we are attempting to place more emphasis on East Asia," said Lugar.
 
Another Republican committee member, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), summed up U.S.-Pakistan ties as "pay-for-play" as he enquired about about U.S. strategy.
 
"Since it is more of a transactional relationship -- not one that is built on goodwill -- how do we leverage the resources that we have to cause Pakistan to act in ways that we would like to see them act?"
 
Olson responded by saying that Pakistan must be convinced of an enduring U.S. engagement in the region.
 
"The great fear among many in the region, I certainly heard this from my Afghan friends when I was serving there, and I think it is true in Pakistan, as well - is that the international community will repeat the experience of 1989 to 1992, when, having accomplished the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, the international community turned away and disengaged."
 
Committee Chairman Kerry predicted that Olson and Cunningham will be confirmed to their new diplomatic posts. In a rare moment of levity in an otherwise somber hearing, he noted that envoys who succeed at challenging posts usually are rewarded with even more difficult assignments.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid