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Afghanistan Economic Development

Afghanistan Economic Development

President George W. Bush says Afghanistan has made “remarkable progress” since the overthrow of the Taleban regime in 2001:

“Under the Taleban, women were barred from public office. Today, Afghanistan’s parliament includes ninety-one women – and President [Hamid] Karzai has appointed the first woman to serve as a provincial governor. Under the Taleban, free enterprise was stifled. Today, the Afghan economy has doubled in size since liberation. Afghanistan has attracted eight-hundred million dollars in foreign investment during that time. Under the Taleban, there were about nine-hundred-thousand children in school. Today, more than five million children are in school – about one-point-eight-million of them are girls.”

Habiba Sarabi, the first woman governor of Bamyan province, says women are playing a part in the Afghan economy. “In our province," she says, "women have small income-generating activities and they run shops in public markets together with men." As women we are changing traditions and breaking old taboos,” says Shukria Barakzai, a member of Afghanistan’s parliament. She says economic development is a major challenge for Afghanistan, “where sixty percent of the population lives below the poverty threshold, [and] work is lacking and underpaid.”

President Bush says the United States and its NATO allies are working with the Afghan government to help develop Afghanistan’s economy:

“NATO is operating twenty-five provincial reconstruction teams across the country. . . .These teams will help build irrigation systems, improve power production, provide access to micro-credit. The idea is to encourage entrepreneurship, job formation, enterprise.”

The U.S. and other nations have built more than six-thousand-four-hundred-thirty-seven kilometers of roads in Afghanistan since 2001. “And we’re going to build another [one-thousand-six-hundred-nine kilometers} of roads in 2007,” says Mr. Bush. The U.S. commitment there, he says, is serious:

“I’m asking Congress for eleven-point-eight billion dollars over the next two years to help this young democracy survive. I’ve ordered an increase in U.S. forces in Afghanistan. We’ve extended the stay of three-thousand-two-hundred troops now in the country, for four months, and we’ll deploy a replacement force that will sustain this increase for the foreseeable future.”

“Success in Afghanistan,” says President Bush, “is important for our security.”