Kabul expects long-term aid pledges
KABUL (PAN): The Afghan government expects a renewal of a strong long-term cooperation pledge from the international community at the 2nd Bonn Conference, officials said on Monday.
A government delegation is to leave for Germany this week to firm up the agenda for the conference, scheduled for Dec. 5. Comprised of representatives from different ministries, the team will drum up support from participants for the agenda.
President Hamid Karzai would lead the delegation at the meeting, to be attended by more than 90 countries. Important decisions on the country's future direction are expected at the Afghan-led event.
The ongoing project of security transition, long-term support from the global fraternity, greater regional cooperation and reconciliation with militants are high on the agenda.
Deputy Foreign Minister Javed Ludin, Minister of Finance Omar Zakhilwal and Security Transition Commission head, Dr. Ashraf Ghani, briefed journalists in Kabul on preparations for the conference.
Ludin said the Afghan-international partnership would change after 2014, when the country would take charge of its security and civilian affairs.
"Afghanistan's stability and prosperity is not only our hope, it is directly linked to international peace. For this reason, the world should continue aid to this country," Ludin said, hoping for long-term foreign support.
Speaking on the occasion, the Security Transition Commission head said it was the government's goal to transfer security responsibility for the entire country to Afghan forces. Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai said the process would be gradually completed until 2014.
The conference was not an aid-pledging moot, he said, adding Afghan officials would insist on the implementation of pledges held out at London and Kabul conferences. He said the Bonn conference would lay the foundation for cooperation between Afghanistan and the international community.
Zakhilwal said though Afghanistan would be pledged no financial assistance in Bonn, yet the country remained dependent on foreign aid. He said Afghanistan's gross domestic product last year was $12 billion that equaled foreign assistance.
The minister said $10 billion was spent on the security sector alone last year, while Afghanistan's own annual income stood at $1.8 billion. Zakhilwal said they were not concerned about foreign assistance until 2014, but beyond that.
The country needed $6 billion a year for the security sector and $5 billion for long-term development activities, the minister explained, hoping Afghanistan's income would rise with gradual development of its mine sector.
He acknowledged the utilisation of foreign aid had not been effective so far and there was a need for the transparent use of funds through the government's budget.