AFGHANISTAN: Casey, Karzai Discuss Women's Rights

Thursday, January 10, 2013
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Democratic Senator Bob Casey and a handful of other senators met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Washington, D.C., to discuss the upcoming 2014 election and women's rights in the war-laden country.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday night, Casey relayed information about his meeting with Karzai earlier in the day. Republican Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Senator Deb Fischer, R-Neb. also attended the meeting, which was held in Sen. McConnell's office on Capitol Hill.

Casey, chairman of the subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, stressed to Karzai the need for a transparent, free and fair election in 2014, something the Afghan leader agreed with.

"He expressed the same desire to have an election that will reflect the will of the Afghan people," Casey said.

The senator also talked about the strides made in the arena of women's rights, with millions of young Afghan girls attending school.

"First and foremost that gains have been made in the last decade, that's part of the work that he did and the work we have done," Casey said. "Women are participating more fully in civil society and the government."

He expressed concerns that progress could be undermined in the future when the country faces what he expects to be a challenging and turbulent election. It was an issue that still raised some red flags as to stances on the role of the reduced number of American troops in Afghanistan after 2014.

"My sense is that we may not have an understanding yet of what the expectations are of both countries," Casey said.