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11/5/03 - AFGHANISTAN DRAFTS A CONSTITUTION - 2003-11-06


On November 3rd, the Afghanistan Constitutional Commission and Afghan government released a draft constitution for a new post-Taleban permanent government. This document is the product of consultation and dialogue among Afghans of many ethnic groups. It marks an important milestone in Afghanistan's political development.

The proposed Afghan constitution is based on Islamic principles and says that no law can be contrary to what the commission calls the “sacred religion of Islam.” But the draft also says that “Followers of other religions are free to perform their religious ceremonies within the limits of the provisions of law.” The draft constitution further says that “discrimination and privilege... are prohibited.”

In addition to fighting terrorism, says the constitution, Afghanistan is committed to stopping the production and distribution of opium. This will not be an easy task. Today, Afghanistan is the world’s leading producer of opium, which is used to make the dangerous narcotic heroin.

A “Loya Jirga,” or grand assembly, will consider the draft constitution in December. National elections will take place sometime in 2004.

The United States remains committed to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and emergence as a free country ruled by its own people. Afghanistan was the first battleground in the war against global terrorism. Much has been accomplished. But, as President George W. Bush says, more needs to be done:

“The terrorists and their allies fear and fight this progress, above all, because free people embrace hope over resentment, and choose peace over violence.... Our efforts to rebuild that country [Afghanistan] go on...and I urge other nations to continue contributing to this important cause.”

The challenge in Afghanistan is to stay the course, and the United States is committed to doing just that.

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