- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 4, 2009

AGENDA FOR AFGHANS

Britain’s minister for foreign aid is calling for a “new agenda for action” in Afghanistan to promote the national and local governments, coordinate international aid, create jobs and ensure security.

“It is often forgotten that Afghanistan remains a desperately poor and unjust country,” Douglas Alexander, secretary for international development, told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on visit to Washington last week.

“A legacy of poverty, civil war and warlordism, coupled with the current Taliban and al Qaeda insurgency, means over half of Afghans live below the poverty level, 40 percent remain unemployed and violent incidents have risen by 60 percent in Helmand [province] this year alone.”

Taliban terrorists, who ruled Afghanistan with medieval brutality until overthrown by U.S. forces in 2001, have reasserted control over parts of the southern and eastern regions of the South Asian nation and reimposed their violent methods to subjugate Afghans.

As Mr. Alexander noted, Taliban thugs still behead schoolteachers to prevent them from educating girls. They have also destroyed 530 schools throughout the country.

“But just as the Taliban close schools down, we are helping Afghans to reopen them,” he said, adding that he visited Afghanistan only days before traveling to Washington.

“With international support, more than 6 million children are now enrolled in school in Afghanistan, up from 9,000 boys under the Taliban, when educating girls was deemed unlawful.”

At least one-third of the students now in school are girls, Mr. Alexander said.

However, security is still the top concern of Afghans, even as the United States mounts a surge in forces that will bring American troops to a record 62,000, double the number of a year ago. More than 100,000 coalition troops are now opening operations against Taliban areas with the goals of driving out the terrorists and securing towns and villages against their return.

“We should be in no doubt about the scale of these challenges in a nation where poverty is widespread and where narcotics still encourages criminality and funds the insurgency,” Mr. Alexander said.

“So great is the fear and the threat of violence that security and justice matter as much, if not more, than the provision of other basic services in the eyes of many ordinary Afghans,” Mr. Alexander said.

MALAYSIA’S NEW ENVOY

The politician who helped send the first Malaysian into space has been named Malaysia’s new ambassador to the United States.

The Foreign Ministry announced Monday that Jamaludin Jarjis, 58, will receive his official diplomatic documents Tuesday from the king, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin.

Mr. Jamaludin has been a member of the Malaysian parliament since 1990 and served as minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs in January 2004 and minister of science, technology and innovation from March 2004 until 2008.

As head of the science ministry, Mr. Jamaludin, who has a doctorate in electrical engineering from Canada’s McGill University, directed Malaysia’s space program, which put a Malaysian astronaut in the International Space Station in 2007.

KOREAN TALKS

South Korean envoy Wi Sung-lac will meet in Hawaii with U.S. officials Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss how to restart talks with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special envoy for the nuclear negotiations, and Sung Kim, a State Department official, will represent the United States in what the South Korean Foreign Ministry is calling a “brainstorming” session.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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