U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says security forces can drive out Afghanistan’s Taleban insurgents, but “when you’ve cleared out an area, you have to be able to help the population recover, and that keeps them on your side.”
To help the Afghans recover, President George W. Bush will seek congressional approval for two billion dollars in reconstruction assistance during the next two years. In addition, Mr. Bush will request more than eight and a half billion dollars in security assistance for Afghanistan.
U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns says American aid is helping the Afghan people build infrastructure:
“We have been involved in trying to construct a ring road, a national ring road. . . .from Kabul to Kandahar around to Herat in the west and back up again. About seventy-five percent of that road is constructed, about one-thousand-four-hundred miles of road, and we intend to finish it by 2010.”
The United States, says Mr. Burns, is working with the Afghan government to help meet other basic needs of the Afghan people:
“We’re involved in power construction. We have several multinational projects underway to build up hydro and electrical power systems. . . .We’re also involved in rural development. In the past five years, about five million girls and boys have been returned to school with the assistance of the Afghan government, but also of the United States and the other donor countries.”
The new aid will also pay for economic development projects, including those to expand irrigation and agriculture, and efforts to combat narcotic trafficking. Under Secretary of State Burns says, as Afghans rebuild, they continue to be threatened by the Taleban:
“They’ve gone into Kandahar and killed elected authorities, they’ve killed schoolteachers, they have tried to intimidate people who educate girls.”
A female teacher who was once beaten by Taleban religious police for teaching girls says she now administers a girls’ school in Kabul. “We have our first class of eleventh-graders,” she says.
Protecting the gains made by Afghan women and men, says U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, means “defeating the Taleban” and winning the trust and support of the Afghan people.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.