Aid to Afghanistan 4 Years Later

A high-level, 60-nation meeting was held in London to assess the state of Afghanistan four years after the Taliban was ousted. Participants judged that the country was doing reasonably well and pledged an additional $10.5 billion over five years to help it further along.

The principal dilemma is the narcotics production and marketing, with as much as 90 percent of the world's heroin and opium again coming from Afghanistan. The Taliban government had pretty much wiped the drug trade out prior to 2001 but it's now back in full production.

The second major problem, also examined at the conference, is the lack of control that the central government of President Hamid Karzai has over Afghanistan, a country the size of Texas, which retards the development of national unity.

As to economic aid, which is critical to enhancing the credibility of the Karzai government, the United States will provide $1.1 billion in 2006 and seek the same amount from Congress for 2007. It has also found its promises of economic reconstruction aid hard to keep, given the difficult security climate there.

The United States plans to draw down its military presence in Afghanistan from about 19,000, currently costing about $800 million a month.

So it costs close to billion a month to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan, or $9.6 Billion a year.

And meanwhile the U.S. gives the country a billion a year in aid, which is just over 11% of the amount spent on military operations.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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