Afghanistan: Troubles Persist, NATO to Assume Control of ISAF

As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) readies to take control of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on Monday, Afghanistan continues to struggle amidst growing attacks on aid workers and law enforcement officers in its provinces. Despite repeated calls by the United Nations (UN), Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and progressive organizations including the Feminist Majority, ISAF remains confined within Kabul. At his farewell press conference this week, outgoing ISAF commander Lt. Gen. Norbert van Heyst of Germany credited ISAF for securing the capital city of Kabul; however, “What I really want to do is to wake up the international community to do each and every thing to provide security in the province,” reported the Agence France Presse. Since late July, roughly 60 people have died in attacks by suspected al-Qaeda supporters, predominantly in the south-the former stronghold of the Taliban, the AFP reported. Just yesterday, six Afghan soldiers and a US aid worker were killed by ambush in the southern province of Helmand.

Since the Taliban’s ouster in 2001, Afghan women in Kabul have slowly begun returning to school and work. Earlier this month, Afghan women’s rights advocates submitted 100,000 signed copies of the “Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women,” urging the country’s 35-member constitutional commission to grant women fundamental rights and freedoms in the new constitution. However, because security remains a concern, many women continue to wear the burqa, according to Reuters. “A country’s tradition is stronger than its constitution; we cannot change it very quickly… It’s very difficult, and we must go carefully step by step,” Dr. Soraya Rahim, deputy minister of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs told Reuters.

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AFP 8/7/03; Reuters 7/30/03, 8/7/03; AP 8/3/03; Sify 8/7/03; Feminist Daily News Wire

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