Afghan Interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai and United Nations special envoy to Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi called on the international community yesterday to release aid money pledged for Afghanistan’s reconstruction in January in order to fund a national security force in the country. “[T]he establishment of a well-trained, properly equipped national security force is an absolute priority now,” said Brahimi. “It is the only way to bring about the security for which the people of Afghanistan yearn and which is indispensable if this country is to be reconstructed.”
Violence and instability are major obstacles to reconstruction, as old warlords are taking over various regions of Afghanistan and in some instances are imposing Taliban-like restrictions on women. UN and Afghan officials believe that the immediate expansion of international peace troops is absolutely essential to disarmament, de-escalation of conflicts among warlords, preservation of women’s rights and human rights, delivery of humanitarian assistance, and the success of the loya jirga process. Currently, Afghanistan has only 4,800 international peace troops in Kabul. “Most Afghans have not yet seen the dividends of peace,” said Brahimi. The Bush Administration, however, has refused to allow an expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
At the same time, Afghanistan does not have adequate resources to build an effective national security force. “The time has come for the international community to make good on its promises made in Tokyo and write out its checks,” said Brahimi. Of the $1.8 billion pledged from world donors for the first year of Afghan reconstruction, only $360 million has reached Kabul. Afghanistan, however, is in desperate need of resources to aid economic development, help rebuild its infrastructure, and to help ensure women’s rights. The Afghan Ministry for Women’s Affairs has received very little funding for its critically need programs in the areas of education, vocational training, and women’s health.