The promise of billions of dollars for their country obviously nudged them along, and there is no guarantee that their best intentions will not be waylaid by recalcitrant warlords, but the four Afghan factions that signed a pact in Germany this week deserve congratulations for what they have accomplished.
In just a few weeks, these representatives of frequently antagonistic ethnic groups agreed to establish an interim government in which these groups and others will be represented. They agreed to the presence in Afghanistan of an international peacekeeping force, and, by naming two women as ministers, they moved to end the oppression of women in their land.
They have thus laid the groundwork for a second interim government to be created in six months, leading to elections and a permanent government within two years.
There are dangers ahead. Some Northern Alliance leaders are said to be unhappy about sharing power with groups that have not done any of the fighting, and even if they put aside their objections, the new government will have to cope with astonishing poverty and a perilous lack of order. ...
A next promised step -- the funneling by Western nations of billions of dollars into the country -- can help alleviate its misery this coming year and build a solid economic structure for the long-term future.
It is a far way from happening, but the miracle at the end of the day could be that America's war on terrorism not only destroyed networks of evildoers who would otherwise have continued the murdering of thousands, but also helped rescue Afghanistan from tyranny and unspeakable destitution. That is a hope made more nearly possible by the Afghan negotiators.
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