Freedom in Afghanistan

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

(Toyko) Asahi Shimbun

The 2001 Bonn accord, backed by the United Nations, called for setting up an interim government [in Afghanistan] composed of representatives of ethnic groups, establishing a new constitution by the end of 2003 and holding elections in June 2004. The political process up to the halfway point -- enacting a new constitution -- more or less is on schedule.

Yet, the content of the new constitution is far from what the international community had sought. Under the new constitution, the country is henceforth to be called the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. It says all laws must conform to the teachings of Islam.

Basic human rights, such as freedom of thought and beliefs, are guaranteed, but only within the framework of Islamic teachings and legislation. This provision is heavily imbued with the ideas of the old guard. There is a real danger that freedom of political activities and religious beliefs could be constrained by this provision.

While a road map for reconstruction of Afghanistan has been made, the country still faces a bumpy road ahead. ... For Afghanistan to move to the next stage of its reconstruction, with the promise of elections, it is essential that it benefits from the firm support offered by the international community.

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