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Monday, 28 January, 2002, 09:59 GMT
Rebuilding Afghanistan: Is enough being done?
Afghanistan's interim leader Hamid Karzai has said the $4.5bn of aid pledged to start rebuilding the country must be made available quickly.

The conference's final statement said more than $1.8bn will be given in the first year, with funding over the next few years bringing the total to $4.5bn.

Most of the money pledged will come from Japan, the US, the European Union and Saudi Arabia.

Afghan delegates at the meeting expressed delight at the amount pledged, but questions remain about whether the money will reach those most in need.

The pledges are also still some way short of the $10bn over five years that the United Nations says Afghanistan needs to rebuild.

Do you think the international community is doing enough to help rebuild Afghanistan? Can more be done to help the Afghan people?

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Right now is what counts

Sam, USA
Too much focus is being spent on planning Afghanistan's future without focusing on the present needs on the ground right now. Right now is what counts, not a few years from now.
Sam, USA

Many people drew parallels with the post-war aid to Germany and Japan but have failed to point out one important factor: disarmament. Both Germany and Japan were totally disarmed before development aid went in. We must find ways to implement an effective disarmament of Afghanistan (outside their regular army and police) as the first step to rebuild Afghanistan. Possible ways to do this would be to offer cash purchase of weapons so that ex-fighters could sell of their weapons for hard currency and set themselves up for a new life.
Hiroki, Yokosuka, Japan

We have a moral duty in the West to get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible. Interference with the internal culture of a pre-modern society, especially when it comes in the guise of "help" actually harms the society. Non-involvement is what's best for Afghanistan. The West should learn from history.
Kevin, Portland, Oregon, USA

Let's agree to seize the opportunity to help the Afghan people

Richard, UK
Afghanistan needs to be rebuilt. Who cares about the cost? There is no real way to calculate how much or how long it will take, so don't waste the energy. Let's agree to seize the opportunity to help the Afghan people rebuild the whole place.
Richard, UK

I would like to commend the Muslim leader, the Aga Khan, who has donated $75m to the effort. This is one man's organisation and it is extremely generous. Perhaps people can now stop complaining that Muslim countries don't help enough.
N Gilani, Calgary, Canada

It was the 23 years of war, which turned Afghanistan into such a terrorist harbouring country. Since the defeat of the Taleban government, many reports have come out of Afghanistan about lawlessness. If West now decides to leave Afghanistan as it did once before, it's hard to imagine what will become of that country. Besides, it's our moral duty and a demand of humanity that we should help to bring back to normal those whose lives have been destroyed due to the bombing.
John Stewart, UK

How soon we forget! If all the dollars spent on bombing the hell out of Afghanistan had been spent on its people before September 11, Bin Laden would have had no hiding place and the Islamic world would be at peace with the West. Doesn't this teach us something?
Michael, Canberra, Australia

Why should we once again put our hands into our pockets and contribute 'blood money' as a sop to our collective consciences for the unforgivable "crime" of winning? During the twentieth century the economies of Russia, Germany and Japan were rebuilt largely due to the funding received from the victors in three major wars. As far as I am aware, the most significant 'export earner' to come from Afghanistan for many years has been a certain white powder officially designated as a 'Class A' illegal drug. Do we really want to encourage the production and distribution of this 'commodity'? I certainly hope not!!
Paul McDermott, UK

The western world just has the habit of forgetting.

Robin, Holland
I don¿t think Afghanistan is receiving enough money at the moment. If you look at the investments in the western countries and compare that with the money that is going to Afghanistan there can be only one conclusion: they are getting almost nothing. It is maybe enough to keep them satisfied and help them run the country, but after a year of two when western people lose their interest they will get nothing anymore and Afghanistan will fall back to the stone age again. This is despite all the good meanings of its leaders. The western world just has the habit of forgetting, and it will be the same with Afghanistan. If the EU and the US really mean business they have to allocate at least 20+ billion dollar to get something off the ground there. And can you see that happening?
Robin, Holland

Afghanistan will remain a welfare state for several years to come. Once the aid is exhausted, it will be deja vu all over again. The international community should assist Afghanistan to set up small and large scale industries to create jobs for ordinary Afghans. Help them to become self-sufficient. When Afghans are busy creating health and wealth for themselves, the cycle of war and destruction will die a timely death.
Rajiv, USA

The rebuilding of Afghanistan requires a great deal of effort and assistance of International community along with their supervision of monitoring these funds. First, there must be national security in place prior to any effort in rebuilding the country. Second, the clearance of land-mines requires a great deal of manpower in order to restore the agriculture side of the country. Finally, the most important issue should be education. Therefore, I think it requires much more than $1.3 billion to restore and to rebuild the country.
Jaber Jami, U.S.A

The Afghan people must go through the evolutionary pangs of development without outside interference.

Alex, California, USA
We had to go into Afghanistan because their harbouring of terrorists posed an unacceptable threat to international harmony. But once the threat is removed, we have just as critical need to leave Afghanistan to find its own way.

After all we have a Prime Directive not to interfere in the evolution of less developed cultures. As painful as it may be to watch from a distance the Afghan people must go through the evolutionary pangs of development without outside interference. Outside interference, "help", would only lead to unintended consequences that would be of far greater harm to them.

We can monitor them from a distance just in case they ever pose a risk to us again. Someday, a few hundred years from now they might have advanced technologically and culturally enough to join the federation of nations. But until then, we must, no matter how callous it may seem leave them to their own path. It will be hard for them, but history such as Somalia, has shown that "good intentions" most usually leave things worse.
Alex, San Francisco, California USA

I think that just giving money is stupid. Why not send construction workers with security forces there, and literally build something? Also the local people should be trained. While donating large sums of money sure looks nice, the money could be used directly.
J. Armfelt, Finland

Before the start of the 'war against terrorism', the Bush administration promised that this time round they will not desert Afghanistan and will help her to stand on her own feet. However, things happening on the ground are quiet contrary to that. America dropped bombs worth billions of dollars on Afghanistan and now they are pledging only $300m for her reconstruction. It is to be noted that most of this money (about $220m) was allocated to Taleban regime and stopped in 1998 due to their human rights violations. Hence, the US is not really contributing much and, as on previous occasions, it wants other first world countries to take the burden of reconstruction after doing the damage itself.
Adnan, Leeds, UK

Education should be a priority

Khaaled Hamza, United Kingdom
As the international community shows much interest in rebuilding Afghanistan, firstly they should pay further attention to the educational system of that country more than anything else, which has got the worse and worse. Education in Afghanistan is very poor, but the international community doesn¿t pay much attention to that, if they do pay attention to it, Afghans will be able to rebuild their country with ease. There is a lack of educated people in that country. Education should be a priority. I wish the best luck for the future of that country.
Khaaled Hamza, United Kingdom

For the record, the US was the biggest contributor of aid to Afghanistan before Sept 11, the UK also made a substantial contribution and both countries are now going to give more. I would also point out that these two countries have taken in refugees, removed the oppressive regime that has blighted the country and played the foremost role in setting up a representative interim government to prepare for self-determination. In the process, people of these nations, and others from the west have risked and in some cases lost their lives. Isn't it about time that the Islamic world made more of a contribution? And many of those who came to the west as refugees could now return to their own lands, many were intellectuals who were thought 'dangerous', Afghanistan will need all the educated people it can get as it rebuilds. The west should, and will offer aid, but that is what it is, "aid", a helping hand to get back on your own feet. The Afghans also need their economic freedom.
Peter D., UK

The resurgence of Afghanistan as a democratic and free society will be no less than a miracle. The warlords who represented chauvinistic and oppressive regimes will start jockeying for a piece of the pie, after the financial aid recently announced in Tokyo, arrives in Afghanistan. Unless women share power in the new regimes, and there is close monitoring of financial expenditures, and the authority to decree punishment against men involved in drug trafficking or violence, no amount of aid will restore peace and stability in that troubled land.
Dr.R.P.Sehgal, Canada

While Americans were happy to contribute billions to the appeal for victims of September 11, a similar campaign to raise money for the victims of Afghanistan raised barely $1m. Similarly the US government promises $42bn for defence, while only contributing around $1bn for the Afghanistan aid package. The US must realise that American exceptionalism in foreign policy only serves to reinforce the poverty which breeds terrorism. The best way to combat future terrorism is a proactive rather than a reactive response.
Tim, UK

Terrorism is the occupation of the poor and disaffected. Rebuild Afghanistan properly, with proper funding and proper infrastructure, and this sort of thing won't happen again. Take away Bin Laden's ploy for attracting new fighters, and he's just an angry little man.
Miles Cheverton, GB

In ten years time we'll be sending peacekeepers in because the money we sent was used to buy guns

George, England
Must we keep throwing money at these countries? Fine, we can help them get going and make it so they're able to survive, flourish and enter into trade, but simply handing over millions of pounds in taxpayers money won't achieve this. It will simply disappear and in ten years time we'll be sending peacekeepers in because the money we sent was used to buy guns. Just look at Africa.
George, England

Rebuilding the structures and rebuilding the people are separate goals. I would say that the rebuilding should begin on a basic educational and economic level so that as the benevolent countries of the world rebuild the structural aspect of Afghanistan, Afghani people can begin to rebuild themselves and reach toward a peaceful future. Empower the people without bloodshed. The world can feed and house them but until we help them help themselves their will be no permanency in any resolution.
Dana Gravley, USA

I do believe that as much as possible is being done to help Afghans. Let's not forget all those other countries that are also being helped; Mexico, Latin America, Yugoslavia, Africa ... we could go on forever. None of us need to condemn the USA, they are my good neighbours and I find them open, caring, loving and full of wisdom and leadership. If Canada were to be attacked, there is no doubt in my mind that our brothers in the USA would be right there for us and so tonight I sleep in peace.
Anne Higgins, Canada

Afghanistan needs it's professionals and intellectuals back.

Morad Ismail, UK
Afghanistan needs it's professionals and intellectuals back. These are the people who will bring much needed skills to help re-build this blighted land and will be instrumental in ensuring that the old ways, e.g. Taleban or Warlords, do not re-impose themselves on the Afghan people. There needs to be a structure quickly established by the aid agencies to allow Afghans to return and rebuild their country. Foreign aid must not consist of only food shipments but also of the rebuilding of the infrastructure leading to Afghanistan standing on it's own feet.
Morad Ismail, UK

Looking at the list of countries helping Afghanistan I see only one so called Muslim country Saudi Arabia. I am asking then where are all those Muslim countries which should help Afghanistan. I remember Muslims all over the world shouting and crying about western expansion, western threat to great Muslim brotherhood. Where are they now. Who is helping, Great Satan - USA, Great Satan Little Helper - Great Britain, Germany and Japan. And I understand that Saudi Arabia will rebuild couple of Afghani mosques in the name of God. I hope that in the future Muslim countries will participate more in international help at least for Muslims.
Michal, Poland

On balance, I feel that we need to do a great deal more, to give the next generation of Afghans the chance to grow up in a world where hunger, fear and disease are things of the past. My only concern though is that other impoverished countries might see a chance to get hold of some western cash - upset the USA, take a few bombs, and then get rebuilt by their cash. 'The Mouse that Roared'?
Gary, UK

Allied forces destroyed Japan, and immediately started on a massive program of foreign investment. Why are we not applying the same logic to Afghanistan?
Alex White, UK

The question is: Why wasn't this aid offered before? Instead, the US imposed punitive economic sanctions on the Taleban and a desperately poor country. I'm highly suspicious of the motives behind all this and await to see whether the promised aid is actually delivered. The US spent billions on weapons and propaganda to demonise the Taleban and bomb the Afghans. A mere £297 million pledge from them is simply not good enough.
Bilal Patel, London, UK

The USA does not have a good human rights record. They electrocute their criminals. Now is the chance for the US to show the world that it really is a democratic nation and it should start by rebuilding Afghanistan and setting the record straight. If only those US soldiers who are in Afghanistan right now, were to help in the rebuilding of the shattered nation, the people of Afghanistan would have turned Osama and Omar over to the US by now. You need to do good to get good!
Meirweis Nabi, UK

This time around the US should realise that spending money on development early on absolves the needs to spend it on bombs later

Tariq, Canada
The comments of Meirweis Nabi illustrate a key point that the US needs to recognise - being proactive and responsible early on can prevent unwanted situations from developing. Just over 20 years ago the Cold War rivals started their way on the Afghan chess board, at a time when women could work and go to school and then left it destroyed once their strategic interests had disappeared. Had they not left it in such a state it would not have become such a haven for rogue criminals and terrorists. This time around the US should realise that spending money on development early on absolves the needs to spend it on bombs later.
Tariq, Canada

It's vitally important for the wealthier nations to pay particular attention to countries such as Afghanistan. We've seen now what can happen if countries are left to ruin.
Michelle, UK

It's necessary not only to rebuild, but also to stabilise a program of permanent assistance and education for these people. An educated, self-responsible and conscious people will never permit radical groups to dominate their lives and take their freedom. When the rich countries of the world realise that ignorance and poverty are the real causes of the terror and the war and decide to do something about it, the world will really know what peace is.
Regina Giannetti, Brazil

I wonder how many western dollars were used to destroy Afghanistan in the first place.

Well it didn't take long for the anti-US attacks to begin. Lest we forget that an overwhelming amount of humanitarian aide comes from the US. Afghanistan will need a tremendous amount of help in rebuilding and I do believe that all of us can do more. However, ridding the Afghan people of the Taleban and pushing for a multi-ethnic government was a good start. Before questioning the help that other countries have offered, first ask yourself what you have done to help.
Chris, US/UK

I wonder why we have to pay twice - once to bomb then to rebuild. It all seems futile as for all we know we are giving the money to a group that could turn out to be as bad as the Taleban.
J Davey, England

The international community is doing its best to rebuild Afghanistan after two decades of neglect and upheaval. However, this falls short of the Marshall Plan, under which America and western allies invested in Germany for reconstruction. Afghanistan requires long-term commitment to realise the fruits of the investment. For now security is key for a peaceful transition.
Namara, Canada

A Marshall Plan won't work in Afghanistan

Natassia Khan, UK
A Marshall Plan won't work in Afghanistan. Germany had a strong infrastructure and highly educated population that, given a good start, was able to quickly rebuild the country's economy. Afghanistan, after 20-plus years of war, has none of these things. It will require substantial investment over many years to rebuild its economy, infrastructure, education system and social cohesion. It will also require that large numbers of peacekeeping troops are kept in place until the threat of violent anarchy ends. There is no choice. Unless the west fully commits to Afghanistan it will degenerate once again and likely further destabilise the entire region.
Natassia Khan, UK

The interim government needs to be given all the help possible to enable Afghanistan to have the best future possible. The US is perfectly willing to spend money on bombs but it should also be concerned with repairing the damage it has caused to innocent civilians' lives.

More than enough is being done. Taking a global view, there are greater, needier and more deserving causes, such as Central Africa.
Robbo, England

Too much money will go into the pockets of too few people

Anthony, Germany/UK
What needs to be kept in mind is that money pledged to Afghanistan is likely to be withdrawn from other poor countries around the world. It's easy to get carried away when talking of billions of dollars and I fear that as usual too much money will go into the pockets of too few people.
Anthony, Germany/UK

Is enough being done to help rebuild Afghanistan?



2521 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

The loya jirga


Unfinished conflict

Rebuilding the country



See also:

21 Jan 02 | South Asia
Billions pledged in Afghan aid

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