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Articles & Op-eds

The facts on Afghanistan
Ambassador Said T. Jawad
Chicago Sun-Times

With due respect, I am taking issue with Robert Novak's [May 31] column ''U.S. is lost in Afghanistan.'' Lost in anonymity and innuendo, it misleads the public about the success of the U.S.-Afghan partnership in the war against terrorism and the leadership of President Hamid Karzai. Novak has it wrong on several accounts.

First, we are to applaud the U.S. soldiers as they conduct heroic operations against remnants of the terrorist groups in Afghanistan to make my country and our world a safer place. Led by the United States, the dedicated coalition forces are helping provide the enabling environment for security and democracy to solidify in Afghanistan. To refer to an unnamed, ''discouraged and discharged Special Forces officer'' to suggest that these valiant soldiers lack confidence in their generals and the integrity and leadership of Karzai is not only insulting the committed U.S. forces but also flat-out ignorance of facts.

Second, Afghanistan has made significant progress in building democratic institutions and strengthening rule of law. President Karzai was elected by the representatives of the Afghan people in the Loya Jirga (Afghan Grand Council) in June 2003. On Jan. 4, 2004 President Karzai signed into law our new constitution -- the most progressive charter in the region -- adopted by the representatives of the Afghan people from all walks of life.

Third, the Afghans and our international partners are proud of the personal values and standards that President Karzai has set in honesty, commitment and dignity and modesty. President Karzai's leadership and integrity is beyond reproach. He is the most visionary and honest leader that has ever emerged in our part of the world.

Never before have Afghans been as hopeful as now about their future. Some 2.5 million Afghan refugees have returned home. Thousands of internally displaced persons have gone back to their villages and begun normal life. We experienced 30 percent economic growth last year, continuing at 20 percent this year.

I ask Novak, as a reputable journalist, to verify his sources and substantiate his statements.

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