Disarming Afghanistan’s warlord-led militias remains a major challenge. During the past year, fourteen-thousand Afghan fighters have been demobilized. Thousands more are expected to be disarmed before next month’s presidential election.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says threats to security in Afghanistan continue:
“There are Taleban elements that want to disrupt the election. Election workers have been killed. U-N workers have been threatened and injured and killed. But the process is moving forward and the campaign is underway for a president on the 9th of October, and then a parliament next year.”
Ten-million Afghans are registered to vote. More than forty percent of them are women. Many of the voters are among the two-million-three-hundred thousand Afghan refugees who returned to their country after the radical Islamic Taleban regime was overthrown. And, says Mr. Powell, reconstruction in Afghanistan is well underway:
“On my recent visits to Afghanistan, it’s been so impressive to see how buildings are going back up. I went to a registration site on one of my recent trips, and it was a registration place for women to register to vote. And to sit in that school and see a line of women going outside the building and around, waiting to register to vote and not leaving until they had their voter registration card. Some of them were completely covered, as is their choice. Half of them were not so covered. But they all wanted to be part of a new Afghanistan. And we cannot allow their dream to be denied.”
According to a recent survey, eighty percent of two-thousand Afghans polled say the situation in their country is better than it was two years ago. Ninety percent said it is better than it was five years ago under the extremist Taleban regime. And ninety percent identified themselves as Afghans rather than as part of a specific ethnic group.
“Afghanistan’s journey to democracy and peace deserves the support and respect of every nation,” says President George W. Bush, “because free nations do not breed the ideology of terror.”