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Ambassador Jawad Discusses Opium, Lobbying and Women's Rights

In the second part of an interview with the magazine The New Republic, Ambassador Said T. Jawad discussed the challenges posed by the opium trade, the importance of a strong lobbying presence in Washington and a controversial law affecting Afghan women.

Responding to a question about the production and trafficking of opium, Ambassador Jawad pointed out that over 22 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces are poppy-free and that another five provinces would receive that designation this year. "In the areas were you and I -- the Afghan government and the international community -- are in full control, there are no poppies," he stated.

"Poppy is produced in the areas where we are fighting narco-traffickers and the Taliban. Helmand produces more than 60 percent...that province is largely outside of the effective control of the Afghan government and international community," Ambassador Jawad noted. "If we establish the rule of the Afghan government and the international community in the provinces, we will have poppy-free provinces," Ambassador Jawad noted.

In reference to a question on Afghanistan's lobbying presence in Washington, Ambassador Jawad stated that the country enjoys many supporters in the administration and in Congress that understand the important issues. Regardless, he noted, "Washington is a sophisticated city. Having a more effective the way Washington operates."

"In addition to the goodwill and support, we need the lobbying efforts to help us formulate our message more effectively and get it accross in a more expedited fashion," he said.

When asked about a controversial law that would have affected Afghan women of the Shiite minority, Ambassador Jawad explained that President Hamid Karzai had not been properly briefed on the law and when he found out what it contained he asked that the Minister of Justice review it and the Parliament revise it.

Speaking on the broader issue of women's rights, Ambassador Jawad said, "We know there are competing interests in Afghanistan, but if we want to build a pluralistic, a peaceful and a stable society in Afghanistan we have to make sure that half the Afghan population -- the Afghan women -- play an important role." He noted that strengthening women's rights would take education and empowerment.

In the first part of the interview, which can be found here, Ambassador Jawad spoke of the immediate need to minimize civilian casualties, possible engagement with different factions of the Taliban and the importance of not sacrificing long-term strategic goals for short-term gains.

Related News: Ambassador Jawad Speaks to The New Republic

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