07/21/2010, 00.00
AFGHANISTAN
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Afghans disenchanted by Clinton, Karzai & Associates

The day after the International Conference, scepticism and misgivings among the Afghan population for the new Peace Programme. Doubtful and expectant to see what will change.

Kabul (AsiaNews) - Disenchantment prevailed among the Afghan population as they watched the latest International Conference unfold.  It was held yesterday in Kabul to discuss how to make the country safe and to allow the withdrawal of foreign military forces. AsiaNews sources on the ground testify that hope is still alive, but the people are waiting to see results.

In Kabul yesterday representatives of some 70 countries and international organizations met. Sources tell AsiaNews that " these mega-meetings count up to a point for the people".  In the immediate aftermath of the ouster of the Taliban, there was real enthusiasm, but now "they no longer expect the latest meeting to be any more revolutionary or innovative than the previous ones”.

After years of foreign military and financial support (with aid topping 40 billion dollars), the fruits are still insufficient, the rivers of money that have poured in to the country had had modest results, roads and schools, hospitals and sewers are still lacking, people see luxury houses sprout like mushrooms on the outskirts of Kabul and criticize the government for widespread corruption. In this scenario the request of President Hamid Karzai to have direct control over at least 50% of donor aid is viewed with scepticism and even fear.

"It is not yet clear - says a volunteer involved in social work in Afghanistan - if this 50% includes the money from foreign states and international bodies or funds for social activities from private NGOs, which often are self-financing or dependent on international aid”.

Until now these bodies have managed 100% of their funds, although under strict government control.  Every 6 months the Kabul government demands a detailed statement, showing all money received in analytical detail and its use in respect of specified parameters (eg a certain percentage of expenditure is allocated to salaries for Afghan employees).

"This control is right - continues the AsiaNews source - to ensure that 50-60% of the money does not end up paying wages, salaries, big cars, as happened in the past. But if some of these funds were transferred to the State, it would be fatal for many initiatives, little known but essential and much appreciated by the people. "

Other sources note that the Afghan Peace and Reintegration program proposed yesterday is expected to involve groups present in the area (involved in construction of infrastructure and services) in efforts to secure the cooperation of former rebels and moderate Taliban.

"This – they say - would jeopardize the safety of these groups and all of their activities. Militants have often attacked those who they believe are abetting the government. "

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