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3/6/04 - AFGHANISTAN TODAY - 2004-03-08

Afghans are taking control of their country and making progress toward self-government. A new constitution protects the rights of Afghan women, who have made substantial gains since the overthrow of the Islamic extremist Taleban regime.

Afghanistan has gone from being a haven for terrorists to being an ally in the war against terrorism. NATO now leads an international security force in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, and in the northern city of Kunduz. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says that role will continue:

“There is a great deal of support in the NATO alliance for continuing to assist Afghanistan in its security area, and increasingly so over the coming months.”

Afghans are cooperating in the effort to make their country more secure. A terrorist recently killed fifteen people, eight of them children, in Kandahar. Then, the terrorist tried to hide in someone’s house. The woman who lived there reported him to the police. Despite such acts of terrorism, Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president, says that the security situation is improving and a significant number of Taleban fighters are now seeking to surrender:

“The Taleban as a movement does not exist anymore...every act that is committed by a Kalashnikov [rifle] is not an act done either by the Taleban or al-Qaida.”

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is upbeat about the future. He says Afghanistan could become a model for freedom and moderation in the Muslim world.