Agenda for Afghans

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 4, 2009 | Go to article overview

Agenda for Afghans


Byline: James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

AGENDA FOR AFGHANS

Britain's minister for foreign aid is calling for a new agenda for action in Afghanistan to promote the national and local governments, coordinate international aid, create jobs and ensure security.

It is often forgotten that Afghanistan remains a desperately poor and unjust country, Douglas Alexander, secretary for international development, told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on visit to Washington last week.

A legacy of poverty, civil war and warlordism, coupled with the current Taliban and al Qaeda insurgency, means over half of Afghans live below the poverty level, 40 percent remain unemployed and violent incidents have risen by 60 percent in Helmand [province] this year alone.

Taliban terrorists, who ruled Afghanistan with medieval brutality until overthrown by U.S. forces in 2001, have reasserted control over parts of the southern and eastern regions of the South Asian nation and reimposed their violent methods to subjugate Afghans.

As Mr. Alexander noted, Taliban thugs still behead schoolteachers to prevent them from educating girls. They have also destroyed 530 schools throughout the country.

But just as the Taliban close schools down, we are helping Afghans to reopen them, he said, adding that he visited Afghanistan only days before traveling to Washington.

With international support, more than 6 million children are now enrolled in school in Afghanistan, up from 9,000 boys under the Taliban, when educating girls was deemed unlawful.

At least one-third of the students now in school are girls, Mr. Alexander said.

However, security is still the top concern of Afghans, even as the United States mounts a surge in forces that will bring American troops to a record 62,000, double the number of a year ago. More than 100,000 coalition troops are now opening operations against Taliban areas with the goals of driving out the terrorists and securing towns and villages against their return. …

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