Delivered in Plenary - February 12th 2004
Sadly Afghanistan has been slightly forgotten about in the aftermath of the Iraq war. A lot of resources will be needed to rebuild the country, and the EU is a large donor; in my view this entitles us to lay down significant political conditions, including demanding progress in human rights, particularly women's rights to education and access to the workforce. I also regret the new Constitution, which gives primacy to Sharia law over international, UN, civil, and political treaty obligations, which may cause conflict over areas such as female lapidation.
I am concerned at the lack of security and the necessary concentration of ISA forces in Kabul to protect the government. There have been significant regroupings of Taliban and al-Qa'ida forces bent on murdering international aid workers in the provinces, which will set back progress. I do not believe President Musharraf is doing enough to rein in terrorist groups in Pakistan's tribal areas and north-west frontier provinces; this is ostensibly because Islamabad's writ does not run to these parts. More must be done if he is to have credibility in the fight against international terrorism.
I was delighted that the Bactrian gold treasures were recovered and I would like to see funds devoted to the reconstitution of the National Museum in Kabul as a symbol of national pride under the patronage of the royal family, which is a benign uniting force in the land.
Lastly, on the subject of the opium crop, my amendment has suggested consideration being given to buying and burning or using it for medical purposes as a painkiller, as a cheaper alternative to drug enforcement measures by the international organisations dedicated to fighting the drug trade and business. It would save the international community a lot of money to burn it and pay the farmers, instead of spending many billions of dollars fighting the drug trafficking trade.