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The Dallas Morning News

Afghan progress reported
International support key, ambassador says, as Taliban, drug trade rise

Staff Writer


Five years after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, that country is battling a resurgent Taliban and thriving narcotics trade but is on course for rebuilding a civil society and a capable military, the Afghan ambassador to the U.S. said Tuesday in Dallas.

The key to success is continued international support, Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad told editors of The Dallas Morning News.

“The country has made significant progress” since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he said, citing an elected president and Parliament, 6.million children in school — 34.percent of them girls — and 30,000 people trained for a projected armed force of 70,000.

Taliban militants remain a threat, targeting teachers, engineers, clerics and others who are key to the rebuilding effort. The militants rely on “ideological, financial and military” support from sources in Pakistan, as well as income from drug sales, Mr. Jawad said, but the group has no support inside Afghanistan.

“They are preventing the reconstruction of Afghanistan through fear,” he said.

Regional tensions, including the war in Iraq, contribute to the challenges facing Afghanistan.
“We live in a difficult neighborhood,” Mr. Jawad said.

Most of Afghanistan’s institutions are now in place, he said, but they lack the capacity to deliver services and defend the country without the support of U.S. and NATO forces.

He suggested that the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other fugitives, now focused on the mountains that straddle Afghanistan and Pakistan, should be expanded to cities. He said most al-Qaeda suspects have been killed or captured in metropolitan areas.

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