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Last Updated: Monday, 30 June, 2003, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Afghans 'must restore security'
By Kylie Morris
BBC Kabul correspondent

Jack Straw
Straw wants Afghans to do more
International support has successfully transformed Afghanistan from a pariah state, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says.

On a visit to the Afghan capital Kabul, Mr Straw was upbeat, saying that life for the overwhelming number of Afghans is now completely different to what it was under the Taleban.

Mr Straw's revelation came on the way from the airport to the city - where he had seen shells of buildings 12 months ago, he said, now there were businesses.

And where people had in the past been downcast they were now holding their heads high.

As in any other country, security must lie in the hands of the people of that country, in the end
Jack Straw
UK Foreign Secretary
He declared that Afghans now have freedom, there is life on the streets and economic activity.

Girls are in school and their country is making its way with the rest of the world.

Security woes

But he admitted after a meeting with his Afghan counterpart, Abdullah Abdullah, that there are difficult challenges ahead, primarily security.

He shared with Mr Abdullah his view that Afghanistan ultimately must secure itself.

"As in any other country, security must lie in the hands of the people of that country, in the end. And others can do what we can but it's both your responsibility and your duty," Mr Straw said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Central authority does not extend far beyond Kabul
But on the ground, security is deteriorating and efforts to empower Afghanistan's central government through the formation of a national army and training of police are going slowly.

The much-discussed programme for demobilisation and disarmament of the country's various armed factions seems to have frozen.

Those problems, together with the reappearance of the Taleban in the south and continued fighting in the north, threatens to scupper any real reconstruction of the country before it's barely begun.

Britain has responded to Afghanistan's calls for more peacekeepers by committing a reconstruction team to the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

Mr Straw says while it is very early days for the team, he is hopeful that based on their good track record of working closely with the Afghans, the British will be able to make a difference.


SEE ALSO:
More UK troops for Afghanistan
28 Jun 03  |  South Asia
US and Afghan soldiers killed
27 Jun 03  |  South Asia
Back to the future in Kabul
24 Jun 03  |  South Asia
Afghanistan in the grip of opium
18 Jun 03  |  South Asia
Analysis: Perils of peacekeeping
28 Jun 03  |  Middle East


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