At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Afghanistan on Wednesday, several witnesses asserted that security is the main concern in Afghanistan. Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group stated that efforts in Afghanistan “may fail because the administration has been unwilling to recognize the magnitude of threats which we face and to direct sufficient political, military, and financial resources to overcome them.”
Schneider urged an expansion of international security assistance forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan, stating that the expansion of “NATO/ISAF remains the lynchpin to greater progress on peace, political transformation, relief, and reconstruction.” According to Robert Perito of the United States Institute for Peace, “Warlords and militia commanders are a major source of insecurity and a threat to the central government … US military support for ‘regional influentials’ is in conflict with our overall policy of promoting national unity and a strong, democratic, central government.”
Only 20 percent of the 10.5 million eligible Afghan voters are currently registered, of which 30 percent are women. Poor security has not only delayed voter registration, but the Afghan election itself. The first post-Taliban elections that were to take place in June were postponed until September due to the lack of security. Despite the dire security situation in Afghanistan, peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan remain a small contingent of some 6,000 soldiers.
The Feminist Majority and other leading women’s rights and human rights advocates argue that without security, women in Afghanistan will never be able to obtain their rights and the country will never have sustained peace and democracy.