'Don't attach conditions to Afghan aid'

India on Sunday called for indigenisation of foreign aid to Afghanistan and asked the international community to avoid the temptation to set 'conditionalities' on such assistance as major donors pledged $16 billion in aid to stabilise the violence-beset country.

Underlining India's long term commitment to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, India's External Affairs Minister SM Krishna called for continued international support and developmental assistance to a country that has been ravaged by three decades of conflict and terror emanating from across the border.

'It is this perspective that should animate our thinking when we commit to Afghanistan long term future today. This perspective should not only determine the quantum of resources that we commit to Afghanistan, it should also temper the kind of conditionalities that are attached to assistance,' he said amid aid fatigue in the international community.

While lauding the mutual Mutual Accountability Framework that has been drafted for the conference as a noble effort, Krishna exhorted the international community not to link aid to conditionalities like good governance amid allegations of corruption against the Karzai government and misutilisation of foreign aid.

'Good governance is crucial to the building of a strong and legitimate state. But good governance also requires a strong state that has full control over its territory,' he said. 'This is not yet the case in Afghanistan,' he stressed.

According to an estimate by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, about 97 percent of Afghanistan economy comes from spending on foreign troops and aid. International assistance worked out to $15.7 billion in the 2011 financial year, which is nearly equal to the country gross domestic product.

Krishna said while $16 billion pledged for Afghanistan represent a baseline or minimum requirement for a least developed landlocked country hit by externally imposed conflicts for three decades, these amounts 'give a fighting chance for success if they can be optimised and managed in a frugal way without excessive administrative costs'.

Over the years, India has pledged $2 billion for multifarious reconstruction projects in Afghanistan.

In this context, he alluded to Indian projects in Afghanistan and stressed that they managed to avoid the multiple levels of subcontracting and dependence on private security companies that add to the overhead costs of the work done by many other development partners of Afghanistan. As a result, we have managed to carry out some of the most economical and cost effective projects in Afghanistan, he said.
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