South Asia

Kabul conference: Afghan views

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has closed a major international conference in Kabul with a call for his country to control its own security by 2014.

The talks ended with an agreement to channel 50% of aid - up from 20% - through the Afghan government.

Here, people in Afghanistan discuss the outcome of the conference and whether it can make a change to their lives.

Khalik Baregzai, rice importer, Spin Boldak, Kandahar province

Khalik Baregzai
Khalik: If international troops leave now, Afghanistan will become a failed state

I am doubtful about these conferences. President Karzai has promised many things many times. He promised improved security, health, education, but has failed in all these.

We read from the media around the world that so many nations are providing help and money yet we see no improvement in our lives.

Everyone knows there's corruption going on and if our president can't stop the corruption, what else can be expected?

I am quite happy that all these countries are helping us and I'd like to thank them, but I would prefer it if let's say Britain or the US are in charge of the implementation of the money. Aid has been given to Afghanistan over nine years, but where has the money gone?

And how can we be in charge of our security by 2014? We don't have the capacity to do the right job, we are not even working in the right direction. We were told in 2005 that by 2008 things will be better, then in 2008 we were told to wait a few more years, and now it's 2014.

Looking at the current security situation - this is not the right time to make such a decision. If international troops leave now, Afghanistan will become a failed state.

I live in a small town on the border with Pakistan. People here are very poor, they are just running around, not knowing what's going to happen. They announced that there'll be an operation in Kandahar and many people - especially those working for international aid organisations, have left.

The Taliban have threatened to kill those working for international organisation. They send text messages and night letters. People are very afraid of what might happen.

So the Kabul conference is not big here. People were more optimistic about the Peace Jirga but now they've lost hope.

Mahbobullah Jabarkhail, student, Jalalabad

I do believe that the aid given by the international community should be channelled through the government of Afghanistan.

The money has so far been spent through NGOs and international organisations, but it hasn't worked. So it's better to find new ways to make it more effective.

The government should in term be held accountable for what that money is spent on. There should be a body which can control the flow of money and how it should be spent. I believe the process can be transparent, so it is a good idea.

The international community spent billions of dollars to have a military presence in Afghanistan. But if they spend half of that on Afghan forces, they will not only decrease their expenses, but they'll help Afghan forces gain strength and I think this is the only way of bringing peace in Afghansitan.

The Afghan forces can be in charge of our security by 2014, but they need to be well-equipped and trained.

The security situation will definitely improve. We have other things to consider as well - equality among the different ethnic groups and their fair representation in government. The economy too has an effect on security. Confidence in the government too can contribute towards better security.

I think there's no doubt that Afghan soldiers are capable. They have potential which has to be used.

I am following this conference with interest. They talk about things that have been discussed in the past, but I am glad that there is such a focus now on Afghanistan.

There was a period during the war in Iraq when Afghanistan was forgotten. I am optimistic because this is no longer the case.

Mirwais Rahimzai, scholar, Kabul

Mirwais Rahimzai
Mirwais: We won't be ready to be in charge of our security by 2014

I think this conference is not very different from previous ones. The only good thing is that this one is happening in Afghanistan and foreign delegates will be able to experience the bumpy roads built with their money.

The government should establish an effective system before asking for more aid money. Corruption is a symptom of a bad system.

I don't think we'll be ready to be in charge of our own security in 2014. Any quick disengagement would take the country to civil war once again.

Hilary Clinton has warned against peace with the Taliban. Well, I hear mixed messages from the US officials. I think the international community, including the US, should look at the problem more deeply and see whether military is the only solution or not.

I think it is not and we have to pressurise Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the table.

If the conclusions of this conference are made in light of the reality on the ground and things are implemented properly it will certainly contribute to a better life for the people of Afghanistan. However; experience from the past shows that conclusions remain on paper or whenever implemented - that's done in a very unfair and inappropriate way.

Siddiqullah Barikzai, NGO worker, Kabul

I've been following this conference right from the very beginning. This conference is very different from previous ones because it's in Afghanistan and this is the best thing about it. It is very good for delegates to come and see the situation on the ground.

But in terms of the outcome and whether it can make a difference for the people of Afghanistan - I am not so sure. They don't consider thoroughly what is happening in rural Afghanistan. There's a hidden agenda and that's for the government to get more control of the aid money.

I think it's way too early for [the Afghan government to take control of aid. We don't have the system, the right procedures in control. And we don't have the right people in high-up position to implement the money and use it for the benefit of Afghan people. Some of our ministries haven't even been able to spend half of their annual budgets. So in terms of capacity, money alone is not enough.

We need a broader programme to improve our system and bring the right people to those positions. Corruption is one of the biggest worries of Afghan people and money is not going to solve that problem.

The problem with them is that they are not fully implemented on the ground. In a couple of months there'll be another one and we'll ask for more money, but we haven't implemented the money raised from the previous one.

And it's way too early for the national army and police to be in full control. The situation in the provinces is getting worse and worse. Security is worse now than at this time last year. We need the international forces to be in Afghanistan for quite some time - I'd say another 10 or 15 years.

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