Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

Huge but Ineffective

One of the main reasons for public pressures against US and its allied governments to pull out troops from Afghanistan is its economic nsequences, in particular, since the US's economic recession in 2008. A decade later than the US war against terrorism was launched in 2001, a new study disclosed that US involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan has cost the US $4 trillion over the past decade. However, the US government has calculated the cost of anti-terrorism campaigns to reach $1 trillion. In addition to the economic costs, the increasing death toll of the US forces has caused widespread anger against the decade-long war in Afghanistan, Iraq and the counterterrorism campaigns in Pakistan.

Besides that, the US's contribution for development projects in Afghanistan is the mainstream for creating the long-term stability in Afghanistan which has proved ineffective in certain ways. In addition, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued a report saying the close to $19 billion in U.S. aid to Afghanistan has been met with success, but the money could have unintended negative consequences. According to the World Bank, 97 percent of Afghanistan's gross domestic product comes from spending related to the presence of the international military and of aid organizations working to help the local population. A recent report by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, found that stabilization projects may have short-term results, such as developing relationships with the community and providing useful intelligence, but too much aid can destabilize the local economies and even create a recession as the U.S. decreases its presence there.

As a country coming out of long-running war, multifaceted disputes and terrorism, Afghanistan is, at present, completely dependent on foreign aides to run its administrations and provide basic needs for people. Aid plays a critical role in the development, poverty reduction, and economic growth of Afghanistan. No need to say, huge amount of financial aids has been poured to the country since the US-led assault in late 2001. Billions of dollars were pledged to reconstruct the country, launch development projects and help Afghanistan to acquire enough capacity to lead the way on its own. The burning question is not how much money has been spent in Afghanistan but how it is spent. Responding to Afghan government repetitive calls for channeling aids through Afghan national agencies, the donor community's representatives at the London Conference pledged to increase government-channeled spending in the coming years. They've agreed to spend 50% of their total aids to Afghanistan through Afghanistan core budget.

From now on, donor nations have wanted to hold the purse strings on development aid themselves, saying that President Karzai's government was corrupt and didn't have the capacity to handle the projects. Afghan officials say that the international community continues to fund projects not based on Afghan National Development Strategy priorities. The major reason stated by donors spending aids through direct contracts is that Afghan government is lacking the required capacity to design, launch and monitor development projects. Admitting that Afghanistan should get on its feet to address economic needs and practice plans, both the international partners and Afghanistan need to work to build sufficient domestic mechanisms to achieve the overall objectives. To facilitate economic growth, reduce unemployment rate and decrease economic dependency on foreign aids, the government is in dire need to develop mineral and energy deposits.

Looking at the current dire situation, the plan should be implemented as soon as the government can afford to do that. However, certain prerequisites are needed to launch such projects. Security, accountability and transparency mechanisms and building confidence to attract foreign investments are of the top requirements to meet this ambitious goal.