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Aid Organizations Ready To Rebuild Afghanistan Once Stabilized - 2001-11-29


Governmental and private aid organizations said they can begin rebuilding Afghanistan only after the political and security situation there has been stabilized, as said in Afghan aid discussions sponsored by the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank.

Mark Malloch Brown of the U.N. Development Program said aid and reconstruction in Afghanistan requires the same level of political will and resources as was brought to bear in the anti terrorism campaign. Anything less, he said, would make the U.S.-led campaign as he put it morally incomplete. "For those who saw the military campaign against the Taleban government and al-Qaida as an effort to root out terrorism; that would be a very ephemeral and temporary job if Afghanistan were to be left as a failed state. It would be to invite new weeds to grow in the same garden" he said.

Mr. Brown spoke in Islamabad at the end of a three-day conference on Afghan aid.

The meeting concentrated on exploring broad approaches to help rebuild Afghanistan, not on a detailed blueprint. But Mr. Brown said the conference was still significant."It was not a headline meeting. It has not come up with some magic number as to what it would cost to rebuild Afghanistan. But it was a very important meeting in terms of the process of developing a credible plan because it allowed my colleagues to share and test their thinking on Afghan partners," he said.

Mr. Brown said the paramount concern at the conference was establishing a stable, secure environment under which aid and reconstruction can begin."I think for us, we can operate in terms of early recovery activities, in situations of considerable instability. But I think that for the peace to really take hold and build, and to get to the point we want where the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank are to undertake really major investments in the country, there is going to have to be a very effective security that people trust and gives them a sense of a peace that can not be challenged,"he said.

Conference participants also are determined not to repeat the mistakes of past efforts to help Afghanistan.

In an interview, Sultan Aziz of the U.N. Office for Project Services, an Afghan-American with long experience in aid programs in Afghanistan, said aid has often became politicized, creating even deeper political divisions in Afghanistan."I think the one major lesson is that resource allocation is, by definition, a political act. When you decide that you will give to one and you will not give to another, you have essentially made a political decision. A political decision in the current context of Afghanistan, and certainly in the last 15 years, would certainly imply that you were creating more cleavages and you were creating more divisions in a society already divided for its own reasons," he said.

More work is to be done at subsequent conferences in Berlin and Tokyo. Participants hope to have, by the end of January, an estimate of just how much will be needed to begin the Herculean task of rebuilding Afghanistan.

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