(WOMENSENEWS)—The Bush administration has given Afghanistan $43 million including $10 million for “other livelihood and food security programs,” a reference to the ruling Taliban's ban on poppy cultivation that dramatically changed the economy of the war-torn nation. The poppy is the source of opium and the crop had provided significant revenues to Afghan farmers. The aid was described as humanitarian.
In addition to being an ally in the U.S. war against drugs, the Taliban also has banned the education of girls and women. It has banned women from professions and from most outside-the-home employment, even with international relief agencies. It has banned women from seeing male doctors and it prevents women from practicing medicine.
Colin Powell, in announcing the gift, said the administration hoped that the Taliban "will act on a number of fundamental issues that separate us: their support of terrorism, their violation of internationally recognized human rights--especially their treatment of women and girls--and their refusal to resolve Afghanistan's civil war through a negotiated settlement." He also called on other nation's to join the U.S. with “dispatch and energy.”