During his statement to the United Nations General Assembly, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan welcomed President Trump’s plan to increase United States involvement and presence in the country.
President Ghani anticipates that the U.S. presence and collaboration with the Afghan National Army will cause marked improvements in the fight to combat Taliban influence, as well as protect and advance the social progress that the Afghan people have achieved in the last 16 years.
In his statements to the U.N. General Assembly, President Ghani outlined the progress that Afghanistan has made in countering the violence caused by terrorist groups. He emphasized the importance of building relationships between countries and utilizing the potential of all Afghan citizens, who make up the overwhelming bulk of the fighting forces in the country.
At the close of his statement, President Ghani said that, “While the threat of international terrorism playing out on our soil has dominated the narrative of our country and driven the fate of our people for far too long, we also have enormous potential to be the regional brokers of peace, a hub for economic prosperity, and a beacon of democratic values.”
Last month, President Trump announced to the country that the war in Afghanistan would move forward and that he would increase troop levels. Defense Secretary James Mattis announced that the United States now intends to send at least 3,000 troops to Afghanistan. This is in addition to the 11,000 U.S. troops who are currently serving there.
Initially, President Trump had made campaign pledges to reduce the U.S. troop presence, decrying the situation in Afghanistan as a failure. Before running for office, he had continuously criticized U.S. involvement, posting on Twitter that, instead of focusing on Afghanistan, “We must rebuild our country first.”
President Trump’s decision to reverse his stance and send additional troops to Afghanistan has received support, as the growing activity of terrorist groups continues to be a heightened concern. The Taliban currently control over 40% of Afghanistan, and there are more than twenty international terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan.
Though portrayals of Afghanistan in the American media are dominated by images of war, women in burqas, and extreme violence, women and girls now have much more opportunity to attend schools and universities, as well as access health facilities. Rates of infant, child and maternal mortality continue to fall and there are more women being trained as midwives. There are also growing numbers of women participating in STEM industries, free media, music groups, advocacy, athletics, the military and the electorate.
Despite the challenges that Afghanistan is facing, President Ghani has an optimistic outlook for the future of the country. He stated, “I am confident that our plans and programs for self-reliance and reform, bolstered by the commitment of our international partners, will chart us on the path toward realizing our full potential.”
Media Sources: Feminist Majority Foundation 8/22/17, New York Times 8/30/17, Vox 9/19/17, RFE/RL 9/19/17, Bakhtar News 9/20/17