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Afghans show mixed attitudes towards Tokyo conference

THE war-weary Afghans have shown mixed reactions to today's Tokyo conference, a one-day meeting believed to shape the future of Afghanistan by deciding the financial assistance for its reconstruction and development starting in 2015, when foreign troops are expected to have pulled out of the country.

"To make comment on the upcoming meeting on Afghanistan, I personally think the Tokyo conference would bring no change to the situation in this country which is still facing several challenges including administrative graft, poppy cultivation and more than a decade-long insurgency," Abdul Jawad, a Kabul resident, told Xinhua yesterday.

Representatives from some 70 nations and international agencies are going to attend the Tokyo conference to review the achievements in the past decade and devise a new roadmap for the war-torn country, helping it stand on its own feet after the retreat of NATO-led troops after 2014.

Over the past decade, the Afghan people have frequently called on the government and international donors to use the funds in construction of giant projects including power plants, agriculture and economic system and to rebuild the infrastructure of the country to generate jobs for people, but nobody minded the demands, Jawad complained.

"The rate of unemployment is very high here, I have been searching for a job to support my family over the past five years, and there are millions of youths like me looking for occupation but it is a challenge to find work here despite billions of dollars channeled in this country over the past 10 years," he said.

"An international conference on Afghanistan will not be successful unless it is held in Afghanistan," said Kafeel Khan, a resident of eastern Khost province who currently works in Kabul.

"In the end, we must take control of security of our country and I am confident and hopeful that the money which would be pledged by international community in the upcoming meeting will help us to build our economy and stand on our own feet," Khan said.

"The Tokyo conference is another chance for Afghanistan to utilize it for its rebuilding by presenting comprehensive strategy and strong commitment to fight corruption and ensure good governance," said Hamidullah Farooqi, an Afghan economist.

"Since the government of Afghanistan has failed to implement its promises given at past conferences, the world community at Tokyo conference would not give the blank cheque this time unless convinced it is not mismanaged," Farooqi said.

In May, the donor countries pledged an annual aid of 4.1 billion U.S. dollars to fund the Afghan security forces at a NATO summit in Chicago. In Tokyo, President Hamid Karzai would reportedly seek 3.9 billion US dollars annually to rebuild his country's shattered economy.

On her way to the Tokyo conference, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Kabul early Saturday morning for a surprise visit, announcing that President Barack Obama had designated Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally of the United States.

Clinton said the situation in Afghanistan is better and the security is more stable. "The transition is successful and the Afghan people themselves can take the responsibility and the future of Afghanistan will be safer and more secure so that little boys and little girls can grow up in peace and stability and enjoy a better opportunity," she said.

"For my part, I am encouraged by recent efforts made by government and international community to help Afghanistan to take control of security and to grow its economy," said Khan, the young man from Khost, "I hope tomorrow's meeting in Japan will help us to bring down the number of nine million Afghans who live under the poverty line, as soon as we can."


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