Editorial: Danger still lurks in south of Afghanistan

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 4, 2003

Reports about lawlessness and drug trafficking in southern Afghanistan should be a reminder to Americans that there is still work to do before the nation will be secure.

Afghanistan fell into the background once the Bush Administration turned its attention to Iraq, partly because an established opposition movement existed in Afghanistan and a new government could be set up quickly. Northern portions of the country and the capital of Kabul have stabilized relatively well, but the south, where poppy fields create a billion-dollar drug business controlled by regional warlords, it’s still incredibly dangerous.

In fact, workers for international aid organizations have been killed in that part of the country, and most of the organizations have scrambled to pull their people out of the region.

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It’s clear that long-term stability will not happen until the entire country can be brought under government control. And it’s still the United States’ responsibility to see it through. It doesn’t help, however, that opposition groups were known to be financed in part by the drug trade, and that current Afghan leaders aren’t being frank about the magnitude of the problem.

It’s important that the administration, Congress and the American people continue to pay the needed attention to Afghanistan, even as they continue to struggle with the challenges of preparing Iraq for self-government.