Thursday, December 16, 2004

Progress in Afghanistan

This is actually a pretty amazing story. Frankly, the progress that has been made in Afghanistan has proven me wrong in terms of what is possible when it comes to democratization in a ethnic/tribally divided society.

For the first time, all of the militia fighters in an Afghan region have been disarmed as fighters loyal to two northern commanders gave up their guns under a U.N.-run drive to demilitarize the country.

The disarming of Afghanistan (news - web sites)'s numerous militia factions is seen as a crucial step as the country emerges from decades of conflict and its U.S.-backed government attempts to impose its authority over strongmen and their loyalists nationwide

"The Afghanistan 'New Beginning Program' was able to declare for the first time the complete disarmament of all units in a region," a U.N. spokeswoman, Ariane Quentier, told reporters in Kabul, referring to the disarmament program.

But despite the disarming of 3,000 fighters loyal to ethnic Uzbek commander General Rashid Dostum and a similar number loyal to his bitter rival Mohammad Atta around the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, many more men remain under arms.

In all nearly 29,000 irregular fighters have been disarmed under the program, the United Nations (news - web sites) says, but that figure is about 60 percent of the total number of men the United Nations hopes to see disarmed.

This is an impressive start and bodes well for the region and all of Afghanistan. Lets hope it continues...