The first battle in the global war against terrorism took place in Afghanistan with the removal of the extremist Taleban regime. The Taleban had given al-Qaida terrorists, responsible for the September 11th, 2001, attacks on the United States, a sanctuary and a place to train.
Today, the Taleban and al-Qaida are on the run, though remnants still remain in Afghanistan. The U.S.-led coalition and elements of the new Afghan national army are pursuing them. According to U.S. military authorities, on August 25th, up to fifty suspected terrorists were killed in the mountainous region near Kandahar. And in a separate incident, forty suspected Taleban fighters were reportedly captured in Paktika province.
As U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Reeker says, the U.S. has “made long-term commitments to Afghanistan’s stability and reconstruction”:
“We have already provided significant assistance to Afghanistan, including in the areas of health and education, security, [and] infrastructure. In the fiscal year 2002 some nine-hundred-twenty-eight-million dollars was provided, and in fiscal year 2003, which is slowly coming to an end in another month, nine-hundred-twenty-six-million dollars has been provided.”
More than two-million refugees have returned to their homes in Afghanistan. To assist them, the U.S. has provided funds directly, through the United Nations, and through non-governmental organizations. Some of the funding will be used to provide Afghan women with literacy and vocational skills training, as well as maternal and child health care.
Mr. Reeker says, “There has also been significant funding for famine relief”:
“We’ve prevented famine, frankly, for two years...with thousands of individual agricultural projects that we’ve supported. In the education sector, for instance, some three-million children went to school, about a third of [them] young women and girls, because we’ve been able to provide twenty-five million textbooks and rebuild two-hundred-three schools, at the last count, and trained one-thousand-six-hundred primary teachers.”
As President George W. Bush said, “Afghanistan still has many challenges, but that country is making progress, and its people are a world away from the nightmare they endured under the Taleban.”