The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) conducted an interview in Washington recently with Afghanistan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Abdullah, who affirmed that in spite of considerable problems facing reconstruction in the country, the Afghan government remains optimistic regarding the prospect of a stable and prosperous future. The amount - U.S. $4.5 billion - that was pledged to Afghanistan in foreign contributions, he said, is much less than what is needed. Nevertheless, Afghanistan remains grateful to countries like Saudi Arabia that met these pledges. He also commented that the Afghan delegation to Saudi Arabia last month headed by President Hamid Karzai discussed the road project, feasibility studies for which have been completed.
One challenge, Minister Abdullah said, was properly allocating funds to the specific needs of the country, since there was no clear delineation as to their distribution. Most of the money was earmarked for reconstruction, but 70 percent has gone to humanitarian aid. There is also a confusion as to which pledges are considered grants and which are aid. The major challenge, however, is the failure of a number of countries to meet their commitments, which is the main reason major efforts for reconstruction have not yet started.
Minister Abdullah reported that Afghanistan has created a National Development Program, which was presented to the recent meeting of the implementation group in Kabul in order to facilitate distribution of aid. He warned the international community that if this aid does not reach the country soon, stability will be threatened. This threat to stability, he said, is something the donor countries must realize, and its effect will be not just in Afghanistan, but in the region and beyond.