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Embassy Row

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AFGHAN APPEAL

Among the flood of the messages from world leaders congratulating Barack Obama on Wednesday, an appeal from the Afghan ambassador in Washington stood out as an urgent call for the president-elect to fulfill his pledge to save his nation.

"Throughout his campaign, Senator Obama spoke frankly about the challenges that Afghanistan, the United States and our common allies face and [he] promised more resources to consolidate my country's democratic gains," Ambassador Said T. Jawad said. "We appreciate his very clear position on fighting terrorism and extremism in and around Afghanistan."

During the campaign, Mr. Obama repeatedly urged a surge of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan like the one in Iraq, which he opposed. The Illinois Democrat also accused President Bush of failing to consolidate the U.S. victory in 2001, when American forces overthrew the extremist Taliban regime for sheltering Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network.

"I think one of the biggest mistakes we've made strategically after 9/11 was to fail to finish the job [in Afghanistan] ... . We got distracted by Iraq," Mr. Obama said on CBS' "Face the Nation" in July.

He urged Mr. Bush to send two more brigades to Afghanistan and also criticized the Afghan government for its own failure to end corruption, control the growth of opium poppies and extend its control beyond the capital, Kabul.

Mr. Jawad added that Mr. Obama realizes the need for a coordinated military and political policy to stop resurgent Taliban attacks and rebuild a nation ravaged by decades of conflict.

"Senator Obama recognizes the importance of an integrated strategy that relates not only to military operations but also the need for political and economic resources to achieve our shared objectives of peace, prosperity and pluralism," the ambassador said.

"We welcome the support that Senator Obama has expressed for a greater focus on institutional capacity-building both in the center and on the local level so that our government's effective presence is further established throughout Afghanistan to protect and deliver services to the Afghan people."

Mr. Jawad also expressed confidence that Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s foreign-policy experience will benefit Afghanistan when the Delaware Democrat assumes the office of vice president.

"In his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the vice president-elect has been a committed friend of Afghanistan and was the first U.S. senator to travel to Afghanistan to meet our president in January 2002," the ambassador said.

Mr. Jawad also thanked Sen. John McCain for his "outstanding record of fighting for freedom and serving his country." He called the defeated Republican presidential candidate "a national hero of the United States and a long-standing friend of Afghanistan."

RELIGIOUS DEFENDER

A prominent foundation advocating religious freedom is praising Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari for creating a high-level position to protect religious minorities that are frequent targets of Muslim extremists.

The Washington-based Institute on Religion and Public Policy congratulated Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic member of the Pakistani parliament, for accepting the Cabinet-level position of minister for the defense of minorities. Previously, a low-level official was responsible for protecting religious minorities like Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Ahmadi Muslims, a sect denounced as heretical by many mainstream Muslims.

"Bhatti will be a tremendous asset to Pakistan's government and to the cause of fundamental rights," said Joseph K. Grieboski, the institute's president.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail James Morrison.

About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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