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Pashtun Taliban Insurgency - The American AfPak Strategy

The Pakistani military has asked for help in counterinsurgency training and different equipment, but it is going to take time to reorient the military. The Pakistanis also realize the fight they are in against the Taliban in the northwestern provinces and the federally administered tribal areas doesn't have a "military only" solution.

A counterinsurgency strategy in the region would focus on improving these social indicators and getting jobs to the young men for whom an extremist ideology is attractive. As it is now, the area is the hideout of the Taliban and al Qaeda. In March 2006, President Bush committed the United States to supporting development in FATA. In response, USAID designed a comprehensive program to support the short-, medium- and long-term objectives of the Government of Pakistan's (GoP) FATA Sustainable Development Plan (FSDP) 2006-2015. Aligned with FSDP, USAID's FATA Development Program (FDP) works in all seven FATA Agencies and the six adjacent Frontier Regions.

USAID's objectives include enhancing GoP's legitimacy and writ in FATA, improving economic and social conditions for local communities, and supporting sustainable development. To achieve these objectives, USAID has expanded existing programs and initiated new activities that: build the capacity of FATA institutions to deliver services to citizens; improve livelihoods; strengthen health and education services; and develop FATA's infrastructure. USAID has partnered with the FATA Secretariat and the FATA Development Authority to implement these programs.

President Barack Obama's new March 2009 strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan treats the area as an integrated theater of operations. According to a White House policy paper: "For the first time the President will treat Afghanistan and Pakistan as two countries but one challenge. Our strategy focuses more intensively on Pakistan than in the past, calling for more significant increases in U.S. and international support, both economic and military, linked to Pakistani performance against terror. We will pursue intensive regional diplomacy involving all key players in South Asia and engage both countries in a new trilateral framework at the highest levels. Together in this trilateral format, we will work to enhance intelligence sharing and military cooperation along the border and address common issues like trade, energy, and economic development."

Michele Flournoy, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, said May 20, 2009 "We have to regard Pakistan and Afghanistan together, because each affects the other so profoundly. That said, the strategy calls for different but integrated approaches in either country. In Afghanistan, we are pursuing -- really for the first time -- a fully resourced counterinsurgency strategy with military on the ground and civilian experts as well." In Pakistan, she said, the strategy has to be different, because the institutions are different. The Pakistani military is functioning and is going after the Taliban, and Pakistan has government institutions that Afghanistan lacks. Part of the problem in Pakistan, Flournoy said, is that the country still is too focused on a perceived threat from India.

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