KABUL –We began a journey in Afghanistan seven years ago with the war that ousted the Taliban from power. Much has been accomplished along the way, for Afghanistan and for the world.
In less than 45 days in 2001, we Afghans were freed from the menace of terrorism and the Taliban. Back then, Afghanistan’s people held great hopes for an immediately wonderful future. Some of those hopes were fulfilled. Our children are back in school. Roughly 85% of Afghans now have access to some health care, up from 9% before 2001. Child mortality – among the worst in the world in 2001 – has dropped by 25%. Democracy, a free press, economic gains, and better livelihoods – all of that is there.
But, sadly, we are still fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda. What is it that we have not done right that makes us – and the rest of the world – less secure?
After the liberation in 2001, the international community concentrated on Afghanistan alone as the place to fight extremism and terrorism, while we Afghans argued that our country is not the right place to fight. The war on terrorism cannot be fought in Afghan villages. Instead, a regional approach was and is needed. It must be concentrated on the sanctuaries of those who train, equip, and motivate the extremists and send them out to hurt us all.