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Afghanistan's Karzai faces huge challenges

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Afghanistan's Karzai faces huge challenges
Afghan President Hamid Karzai addresses a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on November 3, 2009. Re-elected Karzai vowed that his new government would eradicate corruption and offered an olive branch to Taliban insurgents, launching his program for another five years in office. UPI/Hossein Fatemi | License Photo

KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Fighting escalating insurgency and ending government graft are seen as Afghan President Hamid Karzai's immediate challenges as he begins another term.

Taliban violence has risen sharply since elections were first held in August and recent terror attacks have shown organized militants can strike at will, the BBC reported Wednesday.

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U.S. President Barack Obama is working on an Afghan strategy that will require a decision on a request for an additional 40,000 U.S. troops from his Afghanistan commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and ensuring there is a credible government in Kabul.

In his first speech after being re-elected Karzai promised to fight government corruption, the BBC reported.

Controlling drug-trafficking will be another challenge, the report said. The United Nations says eradication efforts have been a failure, while the financing of Taliban operations through the lucrative drug trade continues.

Other challenges facing Karzai include providing proper healthcare as Afghanistan's average life expectancy remains only 44, and improving literacy as about two-thirds of Afghans older than 15 years still cannot read and write, the report said.

Ensuring women's rights is another issue the Karzai government must tackle. Early this year a bill allowing a man to starve his wife if she refuses to have sex with him was passed.

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