WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama on Friday ordered the establishment of a strategic partnership office to handle relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan, as most American and Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) combat troops are set to exit Afghanistan by the end of this year.
Under the president’s executive order, the Afghanistan and Pakistan Strategic Partnership Office is set up within the State Department with a view to supporting federal agencies in facilitating a “strategic partnership” between the United States and Afghanistan and Pakistan, promoting “further security and stabilisation” in the two countries, and transitioning to a “normalised diplomatic presence” in both countries.
Washington wants Islamabad to help facilitate reconciliation between the Afghan government and Taliban in its efforts to stabilise Afghanistan following the troop withdrawal.
Under the presidential order, one mission of the partnership office is to coordinate the final drawdown of the State Department’s civilian filed operations and staff in Afghanistan.
The office will be based in Washington, Pakistan as well as Afghanistan.
The White House executive order issued on Friday states that the “purposes of the APSPO shall be to perform the specific project of supporting executive departments and agencies in facilitating a strategic partnership between the US Government and the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, promoting further security and stabilisation, and transitioning to a normalised diplomatic presence in both countries.”
The APSPO shall “support agencies in transitioning to a strategic partnership with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan in the economic, diplomatic, cultural, technology, and security fields, particularly in the areas of program management, rule of law, and program oversight.”
It will “coordinate the final drawdown of the Department of State’s civilian field operations and staff in Afghanistan. The organisation will also coordinate and oversee the administration of certain State Department assistance funds.”