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Letter to the Editor: Hamid Karzai's Leadership

The Washington Post

by Masood Aziz

Monday, February 18, 2008; A16

Ann Marlowe ["Two Myths About Afghanistan," op-ed, Feb. 11] was right when she concluded that "[c]onsidering where it started, Afghanistan isn't doing too badly" and stated, "Today, most Afghans are living in the best conditions they have ever known, slowly growing their economy out of poverty."

Indeed, important progress has been achieved in a short period: the most progressive constitution in the region; an elected president and parliament; 5 million children, more than 40 percent of them girls, back to school; 5.8 million refugees returned; and 80 percent of the population with access to basic health care now saving the lives of 85,000 children a year.

Both Afghans and the international community deserve credit for this.

However, when Ms. Marlowe opined that this progress somehow occurred without President Hamid Karzai's leadership, she strayed into the realm of myth and illusion.

In fact, the very progress that she commends is a direct result of the courage and determination of Afghanistan's first democratically elected president. Working in concert with the United States, Europe, NATO and regional neighbors, Mr. Karzai has been at the forefront of the struggle against the dual enemies of extremism and poverty.

Serious challenges remain. Afghanistan still represents the front line in the global fight against extremism. This is a joint effort. Success will depend on our common resolve and shared vision for a safe and brighter future.

MASOOD AZIZ

Political Counselor

Embassy of Afghanistan

Washington

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