Afghans urge proper use of Brussels aid money
International donors on Wednesday pledged $15.2 billion in aid for Afghanistan over the next four years at Brussels conference. More than 70 governments in Brussels led by the United States and the European Union promised the financial support on concluding the two-day gathering.
President Ashraf Ghani, CEO Abdullah Abdullah, Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi and other senior government officials attended the conference co-hosted by Afghanistan and the European Union.
European Union Development Commissioner Neven Mimica said international donors had pledged $15.2 billion in aid to help bolster war-torn Afghanistan's government over the next four years.
Samiullah Mumtaz, a resident of Mirwais Maidan area, said he was happy that the international community once again renewed its pledge not to leave Afghanistan alone at this critical juncture and financially support the war-torn country.
He gave credit to President Ashraf Ghani for being able to attract the international aid, but said it would be more pleasant if the money was spent in line with the government’s own pledges at the conference.
Afghan officials, who attended the Brussels conference, had promised using the aid money for development of various sectors in a transparent manner and that plans had already been prepared in this regard.
A resident of Kandahar City, the capital of southern Kandahar province, Taj Mohammad Tabi, told Pajhwok Afghan News the latest pledges with Afghanistan showed the world was not going to abandon Afghanistan.
He said the beyond expectation assistance of $15.2 billion had raised hopes among the Afghans about their future. However, he lamented previous aids were not properly used and concerns in this regard remained.
The resident said it was government’s job how and where to use the aid money but the money should be used in a way that Afghanistan could stand on its own feet because international aid would not be forever.
In eastern Nangarhar province, tribal unity and coordination council head, Lal Agha Kakar, hoped the aid pledged at the Brussels Conference would bring about positive changes in Afghanistan if properly used.
A Youth Parliament member from Farah province, Naqibullah Nikmal, said the aid pledges were a great achievement for Afghanistan.
He suggested the government should use the money through effective and organized plans on fundamental projects like dams, especially Farah’s Bakhshabad dam and on counternarcotics, anti-corruption campaigns and education.
Nikmal said the international community had been assisting Afghanistan over the past 15 years, but fundamental projects could not be executed with the aid.
He added the people of Afghanistan still faced starvation, unemployment, bad governance and insecurity while the aid money instead strengthened mafia groups. “There is no school in various areas of Afghanistan.”
Binafsha Ansari, a resident of western Herat City, said as an Afghan she welcomed the Brussels Conference but feared misappropriation of the aid money like the past.
Mohammad Kazim Rassouli, a resident of southern Ghazni province, said the aid promised at the Brussels conference had huge importance for Afghanistan as it would help complete major development projects and reduce joblessness.
But Kazim urged the government to spend the money in areas where so far no development project had been carried out in order to engage local residents. “If the youth is engaged on projects, they will never choose to pick up gun against the government.”
Writer and journalist Abdullah Hasrat in southeastern Khost province said: “The $15.2 aid pledge is a proof that the international community has still an interest in Afghanistan. It shows there is consensus at the international level about the Afghanistan conflict.”
He said the aid pledges showed donors trusted the President Ghani led government in Kabul and they believed the money would be spent where it was needed.
The journalist said the unity government should use the money on projects that could develop the country’s industry sector and enable the country to reduce reliance on foreign aid in future.
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