Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, September 22, 2004

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For IMMEDIATE Release

Securing Afghan Democracy
Hyde schedules Thursday hearing to examine
Afghanistan’s security, elections
 

BACKGROUND: On October 9, 2004, Afghanistan will enter the final stages of the Bonn Agreement as Afghan voters participate in presidential elections for the first time. Although conditions in the country have improved since the ousting of the Taliban, a lack of security and stability continues to afflict Afghanistan, hinder its development and pose a threat to the upcoming elections. Taliban attacks against U.S. Armed Forces and international aid workers, factional violence, and international crime are negatively impacting the country. Opium cultivation is strongly resurgent in Afghanistan—half of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, about $2 billion, is generated by narcotics trafficking. Currently, over 11,000 troops have completed training in the Afghan National Army, and approximately 30,000 new members of the Afghan National Police should be trained by October. Recently, the Bush Administration announced that it was sending over a thousand troops to Afghanistan to boost security for the upcoming elections.      

WHAT: Full Committee Hearing: United States Security Policy in Afghanistan on the Eve of National Elections

WHEN: 1:00 p.m., Thursday, September 23, 2004

WHERE: Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES: Peter Rodman, Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense; Robert Charles, Assistant Secretary, Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State; and Lieutenant General Walter Sharp, Director, Strategic Plans and Policy, J-5, The Joint Staff.   

Among the questions/issues expected to be addressed during the hearing:

bullet There is currently a ratio of only one international peacekeeper for every 1,000 Afghans. Is this enough to ensure a sustainable peace in Afghanistan?
bullet What is the Administration doing about security and minimizing the effects of intimidation by warlords during the elections?
bullet Is there a conflict of interest in U.S. policy when it comes to the war against terror on the one hand, and the establishment of a strong central government on the other?
bullet What new developments are there in U.S. efforts in the counternarcotics strategy?

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