President George W. Bush says that Afghanistan has come a long way since 2001, when the extremist Taliban regime was overthrown by a U.S.-led coalition:
"We removed a cruel regime that oppressed its people, brutalized women and girls, and gave safe haven to the terrorists who attacked America. Because we acted, the terror camps in Afghanistan have been shut down - and twenty-five million people have tasted freedom, many for the first time in their lives. Afghanistan now has a democratically elected President, a new national assembly, and the beginnings of a market economy. Women are working and starting their own businesses, boys and girls are back in school. The Afghan people are building the institutions of a lasting democracy and the foundations of a hopeful future for their children and their grandchildren."
The United States and its allies, says Mr. Bush, are helping Afghanistan overcome other problems:
"Afghanistan still faces serious challenges, from illicit drug trafficking to continued violence from al-Qaida and the remnants of the Taliban regime. So the international community is working together to help Afghanistan's young democracy succeed. . . .With the help of thirty-five nations, NATO is leading the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. The United States, Britain, Norway, Germany, Italy, Spain, Lithuania, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand are all leading provincial reconstruction teams. These teams are helping the Afghan government extend its authority and provide security in provinces across the country. Our coalition has trained nearly twenty-seven thousand Afghan soldiers and more than fifty-six thousand Afghan police - so they can take the fight to the terrorists and eventually provide security for this new democracy."
Afghan forces, says President Bush, are "risking their lives to fight our common enemy - and coalition forces are proud to serve along with such courageous and bold and determined allies."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.