Afghanistan gets $16 bn, with riders

Last Updated: Sun, Jul 08, 2012 19:50 hrs

Move grants the nation special privileges, like access to American military training and excess supplies

An international conference meeting here on Sunday pledged $16 billion for civilian needs in Afghanistan, but for the first time insisted that the Afghanistan government reduce corruption in order to receive all the money.

Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, appealed to the representatives of more than 70 countries at the conference not to abandon his country as the United States and Nato troops begin withdrawing next year.

The donors responded to Karzai by saying that 20 per cent of the funds would only be released if Afghanistan was more accountable about how the money was disbursed. 

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that the lives of ordinary Afghans must improve.

“That must include fighting corruption, improving governance, strengthening the rule of law, increasing accessibility to economic opportunity for all Afghans, specifically for women,” she said in addressing the conference.

Clinton said the $16 billion was “more than enough” to meet the needs of Afghanistan over the next four years as assessed by the World Bank.

The Obama administration has asked Congress to provide $2.5 billion for Afghanistan’s civilian needs for 2013, American officials said. The United States is the largest donor of all the countries contributing to Afghanistan’s reconstruction. 

In his comments, Karzai assured those attending the conference that his country would try to improve security and become more accountable.

“We will fight corruption with strong resolve wherever it occurs, and ask the same of our international partners,” Karzai told the donors, according to media reports. “Together we must stop the practices that feed corruption or undermine the legitimacy and effectiveness of national institutions.”

A follow-up meeting has also been scheduled in Britain in 2014 to monitor how the aid has been distributed and to make sure that it is not being mismanaged or diverted.

On her way to Tokyo, Clinton stopped in Kabul, where she announced that Afghanistan had be named a major, non-Nato ally, giving it entry to a club that includes Israel, Japan, Pakistan and other close Asian and Middle Eastern allies.

The move, part of a broad strategic partnership deal between the two countries, grants Afghanistan special privileges, like access to American military training and excess military supplies. Afghanistan will also be able to obtain loans of equipment from the United States and financing for leasing equipment.

© 2012 The New York Times News Service

More from Sify: