2006.06.29: June 29, 2006: Headlines: COS - Morocco: Journalism: COS - Afghanistan: Newsday: James Rupert writes: Despite renewing commitment to help defeat the Taliban, many wonder whether U.S. is up to the task

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Afghanistan: Peace Corps Afghanistan: Peace Corps Afghanistan: Newest Stories: 2006.06.29: June 29, 2006: Headlines: COS - Morocco: Journalism: COS - Afghanistan: Newsday: James Rupert writes: Despite renewing commitment to help defeat the Taliban, many wonder whether U.S. is up to the task

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James Rupert writes: Despite renewing commitment to help defeat the Taliban, many wonder whether U.S. is up to the task

James Rupert writes: Despite renewing commitment to help defeat the Taliban, many wonder whether U.S. is up to the task

In Afghanistan, to judge by public debate and by scores of interviews in the past month, Karzai has lost a significant amount of the broad popular support that elected him in October 2004. "The security is not better, the prices are higher and the money [to rebuild the country] is only going to rich men," said Shah Wali, a farmer in the southeastern city of Gardez. Rice underlined that Karzai is "admired and respected in the international community." And, she declared, "democratic institutions and the democratic future [are] ... getting stronger each day." But most Afghans interviewed, plus many independent analysts, say anti-democratic forces - such as the Taliban, corruption and heroin-trafficking mobs that include government officials - also have grown dangerously. Journalist James Rupert, head of Newsday's international bureau in Islamabad, Pakistan began his career abroad as a Peace Corps volunteer, teaching mechanics and welding in Morocco.

James Rupert writes: Despite renewing commitment to help defeat the Taliban, many wonder whether U.S. is up to the task

Rice rallies, Afghans still worry
Despite renewing commitment to help defeat the Taliban, many wonder whether U.S. is up to the task
BY JAMES RUPERT
Newsday Staff Correspondent

June 29, 2006

KABUL, Afghanistan - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice flew into Afghanistan yesterday to applaud embattled President Hamid Karzai and renew the U.S. commitment to defeat the Taliban. But her upbeat message drew attention to the very issues on which Afghans' doubts are deepening.

Rice's five-hour dash through Kabul came as many Afghans are saying Karzai has failed to improve security or lessen their poverty halfway through his four-year term. Especially in the battleground provinces of the south and east, many Afghans say they think Washington is not serious about providing the military forces or development help needed to secure and rebuild this war-shattered country.

Afghans' fears have deepened with the resurgence this year of Taliban guerrillas in the south, where 55 months of U.S.-led intervention have failed to deter them. U.S.-led coalition forces launched a broad offensive this month to reverse growing Taliban influence, but its impact so far is unclear.

Rice's stop here, like her visit Tuesday to Islamabad, was aimed largely at pushing the Afghan and Pakistani governments to cooperate more and bicker less in the war against the Taliban and al-Qaida. Karzai and his aides repeatedly have accused Pakistan of quietly tolerating the growing Taliban stronghold in its border areas, which has facilitated the Taliban advances in adjacent southern Afghanistan.

"Pakistan is fighting," Rice told an Afghan radio interviewer. "They've been fighting in Waziristan ... It's a difficult border. But of course we believe that everybody needs to do more."

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri defended Pakistan's role in his news conference with Rice on Tuesday. But neither he nor Rice addressed the inconsistencies of Pakistan's relations with the Taliban.

Pakistan's two-year-old offensive in Waziristan has often been fierce, in some places uprooting thousands and costing the lives of more than 650 troops, the Pakistani government says. But Pakistan last year signed a truce with the Taliban in South Waziristan that leaves the militants free to send their fighters across the border into Afghanistan.

Moreover, the largest political party in the two provinces bordering Afghanistan has urged Pakistanis openly to join the jihad against U.S. forces. And Pakistani journalists routinely meet Taliban commanders traveling not only in border areas but also in major cities.

In Afghanistan, to judge by public debate and by scores of interviews in the past month, Karzai has lost a significant amount of the broad popular support that elected him in October 2004. "The security is not better, the prices are higher and the money [to rebuild the country] is only going to rich men," said Shah Wali, a farmer in the southeastern city of Gardez.

Rice underlined that Karzai is "admired and respected in the international community." And, she declared, "democratic institutions and the democratic future [are] ... getting stronger each day." But most Afghans interviewed, plus many independent analysts, say anti-democratic forces - such as the Taliban, corruption and heroin-trafficking mobs that include government officials - also have grown dangerously.

And with the Pentagon announcing in recent months its intention to reduce U.S. troops here as more NATO forces arrive, many Afghans voice worry about the depth of the U.S. commitment, Rice's assurances notwithstanding.





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Story Source: Newsday

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Morocco; Journalism; COS - Afghanistan

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