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Afghanistan Could Fall Back Into Anarchy, Warns British Parliament - 2003-01-24

The British parliament warns that Afghanistan could fall back into anarchy, without more money and security assistance from the international community. The findings are contained in a new report on Afghanistan's humanitarian aid situation.

The International Development Committee of the British parliament says that one year after the U.S.-led war that toppled the Taleban regime in Afghanistan, the country remains a wreck.

The committee's latest report says Afghanistan has no institutions that work, no legitimate economy, no security and a serious lack of capacity within the government.

It says most of the $5 billion pledged to Afghanistan last year has been spent on humanitarian aid and not reconstruction of the war-ravaged country.

Committee chairman Tony Baldry says Afghanistan also needs international peacekeepers to operate throughout the country and not just in the capital of Kabul. "Unless the international community is prepared to give the kind of security support to Afghanistan as a whole, it is going to start to fracture," he said.

Committee member Ann Clwyd visited Afghanistan ahead of the report's release. She says last September's assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai reveals how close the country came to slipping back into chaos. "I think one of the most telling phrases I heard while I was there was what President Karzai's own security man said to us," she noted. "He said: 'We were a bullet away from another civil war.' "

Coinciding with the parliamentary report was a seminar at the University of London by one of Britain's leading academics on Afghanistan, Jonathan Goodhand.

He says the main challenge to Mr. Karzai's authority comes from powerful militia commanders who maintain control of much of the country. "The security transition in many ways has been disastrous because as everyone would argue, warlords now are stronger than they were a year ago," he said.

Mr. Goodhand says there also are potentially explosive conflicts over land, water and other resources caused by the massive influx of two million Afghans who have returned from exile since the fall of the Taleban.