Sunday, July 27, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
U.S. proposes $1 billion in aid for Afghanistan
By The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration will soon propose a $1 billion aid package for Afghanistan aimed at bolstering the government of President Hamid Karzai and countering criticism that U.S. officials have lost interest in rebuilding the country, senior administration officials said yesterday.
The package, which more than triples the $300 million Afghanistan receives this year, is designed to fund projects that can be completed within a year to have maximum impact on the lives of the Afghan people before scheduled elections in October 2004, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Among other things, the funds — to be shifted from existing foreign and military aid accounts so as not to increase the deficit — would go toward highway and school construction, other infrastructure initiatives, police training, beefed-up development of the Afghan army, education projects and programs to help women enter the workforce, the officials said.
Defense-policy officials, who developed the aid proposal, reasoned that accelerating ongoing initiatives and packaging them with new development programs is justified in light of annual U.S. expenditures in Afghanistan of about $10 billion, most of which goes to support a military presence of 9,000 troops.
The security situation in Afghanistan remains fragile, and the reconstruction of the country remains agonizingly slow. Numerous aid organizations, policy analysts and lawmakers have faulted the administration for its limited reconstruction efforts, blaming the United States focus on Iraq.