Afghan leaders came together to plan the future of their country in Bonn, Germany, in late 2001. Since then, they have made significant progress reclaiming their country from its recent history of war and oppression.
Four-million Afghan boys and girls are now enrolled in school. With the help of major assistance from the international community, including more than nine-hundred-million dollars annually by the United States over the last two years, Afghans have also seen the construction or repair of more than five-hundred health clinics and two-hundred-fifty schools. Roads, including the highway linking Kabul to Kandahar, are being rebuilt.
As President George W. Bush said, the U.S. is also helping to train a new Afghan national army:
“We want the Afghan people to defend themselves at some point in time. This army launched its first major operation, called Warrior Sweep, to hunt down the terrorists, along with the help of the United States of America. Now thanks to the United States and our fine allies, Afghanistan is no longer a haven for terror. The Taleban is history, and the Afghan people are free.”
This month, NATO formally took over command of the international security force for Afghanistan. The force’s mission, said President Bush, is to assist Afghan authorities in providing a safe environment:
“As NATO assumes a leading role in keeping Afghanistan secure, we’re helping with the reconstruction and the founding of a democratic government. We’re making steady progress in Afghanistan.”
President Karzai took bold action recently to replace governors and rein in warlords. The United States supports President Karzai in his efforts to defend the human rights of his people.
There is still much that remains to be done in Afghanistan. But President Bush has made it clear that the U.S., its NATO allies, and friends will stay the course. They are committed to working with the Afghan government and people to cultivate the seeds of hope that have now been planted.