Afghanistan: Country Struggles as Reconstruction Efforts Begin in Iraq
While the United States Office for the Reconstruction of Iraq sent teams to Iraq to establish offices in various parts of the country this week, Afghanistan continues to struggle for resources and security to make possible the rebuilding of its government and its country. According to the Washington Post “the military is splintered by factionalism, the police force is untrained, the justice system is dominated by religious conservatives who have more in common with the Taliban than with Karzai, and the tax collection is largely ineffective.”
The Washington Post reports that Asraf Ghani, the Afghan Finance Minister, stated that with $20 billion more in aid over the next five years “Afghanistan will become a prospering nation that can take care of itself entirely in 10 years” but if the international community forgets its commitments “Afghanistan will become a narco-terrorist state that will be a constant problem to the world.” The money spent by aid agencies and the United Nations in 2002 has not been enough to yield successful results. For example, the $50-60 million needed for the 2004 elections has not been raised and the Washington Post has reported that the Louis Berger Group, the U.S. firm coordinating the U.S. part of the Kabul-Kandahar-Herat highway, announced that the $180 million pledged by the United States, Japan and Saudi Arabia is only enough money to rebuild part of the highway from Kabul to Kandahar. The Afghan government has requested funds to do the road work themselves in a more cost effective manner.
In addition, lack of security remains a major deterrent in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The New York Times reported that a car bomb exploded on Saturday in eastern Afghanistan killing four people and an Italian tourist was shot dead last week while in a taxi in southern Afghanistan. The Feminist Majority has been leading the call for International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) expansion, increased reconstruction funding, and for more resources to support the work of the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Independent Human Rights Commission.