Afghanistan Reemerges as a Top Concern after Bloody Year

( [email protected] ) Jan 30, 2007 05:43 PM EST

The troubled country of Afghanistan is once again the focus of U.S. lawmakers and Christian ministries as both pour money and aid into reconstructing the country after the bloodiest year since the Taliban’s expulsion in 2001.

New U.S. House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) met with Afghan leaders including President Hamid Karzai Sunday, following Washington’s announcement of a proposed $10.6 billion aid package to the south Asian country for security and reconstruction operations on Friday.

Washington’s increased attention comes as concern mount over the resurgence of the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. The country has also experienced an alarming increase in opium production and heightened tension between Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan where Taliban leaders and members are allowed refuge.

However, PACTEC, the humanitarian subsidiary of Mission Aviation Fellowship, reported that its mission has not felt the effect of the recent comeback by the Taliban and al-Qaeda allies and may even expand its work in Afghanistan.

“The threat, mainly, has been in the south, although we do fly in and out of there, they haven’t really targeted non-governmental entities,” said Drew Baker of PACTEC, according to Mission Network News on Jan. 19. “They’ve been mostly targeting the Afghan government, the coalition forces, (and) that kind of thing. Have we felt threatened? Not really.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on the other hand, was highly concerned about the growing threats inside Afghanistan. She told ARD German Television after a meeting with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) foreign ministers on Friday that Afghanistan is “NATO’s central, most important mission right now,” according to the U.S. Department of State’s news agency USINFO.

Last year Afghanistan suffered its bloodiest year since the Taliban’s ouster in 2001. More than 4,000 people died in insurgency-related violence, according to a tally by The Associated Press. The incoming commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, said Monday he expects more Taliban suicide attacks this year.

In total, the United States has spent $14.2 billion in Afghanistan since 2001.

Besides PACTEC, other Christian ministries working in Afghanistan have focused on providing healthcare, especially in the field of maternity care. World Vision is working with a local hospital to train local women to be midwives in an effort to combat Afghanistan high infant mortality rate, while Interserve International and CURE International are also helping to educate new mothers and deliver babies.