Countries in South Asia face myriad human rights and democracy challenges; however, there have been many recent improvements. In Afghanistan, the adoption of a constitution on January 4, 2004, represents a victory for the central government and a major step along the road toward democracy and stability. The constitution provides strong human rights protections, including equality for women and ethnic groups, and the freedom to practice one's religion. There have also been positive developments in the relationship between India and Pakistan, with India and Pakistan agreeing at the January 2004 South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Summit to resume a composite dialogue addressing all issues. However, terrorism and the many insurgencies that plague the region both reflect and contribute to a poor human rights climate. This document examines the United States ability to address broad challenges in South Asia through private and public diplomacy efforts, conflict resolution and reconciliation efforts, and education and economic reform in countries with large Muslim populations. U.S. democracy programs combine legislative, judicial and local governance reform and projects to strengthen civil society and independent media at national and local levels to improve transparency, accountability and inclusiveness.
United States Department of State, http://www.state.gov
Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2003-2004, South Asia