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

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, March 7, 2006

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For IMMEDIATE Release

Afghanistan Progress Report
Ros-Lehtinen, Rohrabacher Schedule Thursday Hearing
 

BACKGROUND - Afghanistan’s political transition is proceeding under elected president Hamid Karzai, but insurgent threats to Afghanistan’s government persist.  Afghan citizens enjoy new personal freedoms that were forbidden under the Taliban, and women are beginning to participate in political life and a strongly growing economy.  The U.S. and the international community have implemented programs to enhance Afghanistan’s economy, discourage Afghan poppy cultivation, and depress illegal drug trade.  However, narcotics-trafficking remains rampant, although counter narcotics measures implemented in 2005 have slowed aggravation of that problem.  The insurgency, led by remnants of the former Taliban regime, remains active, as do independent militias throughout the country.  On March 1, 2006, President Bush made a brief visit to Afghanistan where he focused on that country’s democratic progress since 2001 after the Taliban was ousted by a U.S.-led invasion.  On September 18, 2005, Afghans held parliamentary elections, nearly a year after successful presidential elections.  While voter turnout was relatively low—approximately 57 percent—officials reported no major attacks on polling centers.  A number of unaffiliated, well-educated Afghans won seats, including several prominent women, although results largely confirmed expectations that many seats would go to recognizable personalities and factional groupings, including veteran military commanders and possibly drug traffickers.  The completion of presidential and parliamentary elections is considered a major milestone that has given the Afghan government the additional strength it needs to combat the Taliban insurgency and remove local strongmen.  U.S. commanders believe that the combat, coupled with overall political and economic reconstruction, is defeating the insurgency, although insurgent attacks have escalated somewhat since April 2005. 

WHAT:                             Subcommittee Joint Oversight Hearing: Afghanistan: Progress Report
                                         
Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia,

                                          U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chair
                                         
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations,
                                          U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher(R-CA), Chairman

WHEN:                             10:30 a.m., Thursday, March 9, 2006
                                   
                                                        (NOTE: At 8 a.m. Thursday, Rep. Rohrabacher will convene a panel of witnesses in advance of the 10 a.m. hearing and will include testimony
                                                        from Former Congressman Don Ritter, Chairman, Afghanistan-America Foundation; Barnett R. Rubin, Ph.D., Director of Studies/Senior
                                                        Fellow, Center on International Cooperation, New York University; Frederick D. Barton, Senior Adviser and Co-director, International  
                                                        Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Amit Pandya, Esq., International    Development Consultant; and
                                                        Seth G. Jones
, Ph.D., M.A., Political  Scientist, RAND Corporation

WHERE:                          Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES:                The Honorable James R. Kunder,
                                         Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Asia and the Near East,
                                         U.S. Agency for International Development;

                                         Rear Admiral Robert T. Moeller, USN,
                                        
Director, Plans and Policy,
                                         U.S. Central Command;

                                         Thomas A. Schweich,
                                        
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary,
                                         Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs,
                                         U.S. Department of State; and

                                         The Honorable Maureen Quinn,
                                        
Coordinator for Afghanistan,
                                         Bureau of South and Central Asia Affairs,
                                         U.S. Department of State.

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