x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Donors pledge $16bn in Afghanistan aid

Donor nations yesterday pledged US$16 billion (Dh58bn) for Afghanistan to prevent the country from sliding back into turmoil when foreign combat troops depart, but called on Kabul to implement reforms to fight graft.

TOKYO // Donor nations yesterday pledged US$16 billion (Dh58bn) for Afghanistan to prevent the country from sliding back into turmoil when foreign combat troops depart, but called on Kabul to implement reforms to fight graft.

A statement at the closing of a conference in Tokyo confirmed donors would stump up $16 billion in civilian aid through 2015, with several preconditions including a clampdown on corruption.

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, was in the Japanese capital along with Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, and Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, for talks focused on the so-called "transformation decade" after the Nato drawdown.

Yesterday's conference hosted representatives from about 80 nations and international organisations in a gathering aimed at adopting the "Tokyo Declaration", pledging support and cash for the turmoil-wracked nation.

The deal is meant to plug the gap between what Kabul gets from its barely-functioning economy and what it needs to develop into a stable country. Afghanistan covers only a third of the $6 billion it spends each year, not counting security costs, and has for a long time been heavily dependent on aid.

There are fears that once the US and its allies no longer have to worry about their soldiers dying in Afghanistan after the pullout in 2014 the country could drift into the hands of drug lords and extremists.

The deal calls for a monitoring mechanism, and follow-up ministerial meetings every two years, to ensure Afghanistan stays on the right track with respect to holding democratic elections, fighting corruption and promoting human rights.

The Afghan foreign minister, Zalmai Rassoul, said Kabul would make good on its commitments.

""The Afghan government will deliver," he said. "We are talking about the future. We are not talking about the past. And there is no choice. That is the duty that the Afghan government will deliver."