For Immediate Release
October 1, 2004
From remarks by Deputy Secretary of State Armitage before the House Committee on International Relations, 9/29/04
Three years ago, the United States embarked on a campaign in Afghanistan to defend America. Today, the goal remains to defeat terrorism, and specifically to deny terrorists any safe haven in Afghanistan. The key to long-term success is to help Afghanistan become a stable country.
On October 9th, Afghanistan will hold presidential elections, followed by parliamentary and local elections next spring. More than 10 million Afghans have registered to vote. More than 40 percent of those who have registered are women. Overall, voter registration in all but two provinces has exceeded 68 percent of the estimated voter-age population, and is much higher in some parts of the country. Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan will also have the opportunity to vote.
The international community stands with the people of Afghanistan. In turn, the Afghan people and their government have welcomed the support of the United States and the international community.
The elements of lasting stability in Afghanistan are to elect a sovereign government, improve the security situation, and reconstruct a nation wrecked by a quarter-century of war and tyranny.
The United States government wants to see a self-governing Afghanistan, where all the people -- men and women alike -- enjoy human rights and freedom of conscience. America also wants to maintain its partnership with Afghanistan in the global war on terrorism.
The Taliban and other insurgents will continue to try to disrupt the election, so forces from 41 countries, plus the Afghan National Army and police, will be on the ground, ready to defend the integrity of the election process and the right of the Afghan people to vote.