Afghan envoy seeks military, financial aid

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Afghanistan’s ambassador to Washington called yesterday for more military and economic help from the West, citing a spike in terrorist activity in the past six months and fears that it could spread.

Almost five years after the U.S.-led invasion that ousted the repressive Taliban regime, only half of the money pledged by the international community to rebuild Afghanistan has been delivered and spent, Said T. Jawad said in an interview with The Washington Times.

“We will not be able to stabilize the country if we don’t build up the domestic security forces and have development in the countryside,” Mr. Jawad said. “Had we invested more in development, we would have had less security problems today.”

Military spending is now about 10 times greater than spending on economic development, he added.

U.S. troops joined an indigenous rebel force to dislodge the ruling Taliban — the al Qaeda terror network’s patrons in Afghanistan — beginning less than a month after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai yesterday thanked the United States for that assistance and called for a reinvigorated fight against terrorism.

“For many years, the Afghan people were held hostage in their own country and subjected to unspeakable atrocities by foreign terrorists and their Taliban friends,” Mr. Karzai said, according to Agence France-Presse.

“The world must continue the fight against the menace of terrorism with greater resolve and dedication,” he said.

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden remains on the run from the U.S. military. The Taliban has regrouped and rearmed and, in recent months, mounted increasingly stiff resistance to NATO and government forces, particularly in four southern provinces and one eastern province.

More than 420 insurgents have died in the past nine days during fierce battles with NATO and Afghan forces in southern Kandahar province, a Taliban stronghold.

Two suicide bombings for which the Taliban claimed responsibility in the last three days — one in the capital Kabul and another in eastern Afghanistan — have killed at least 17 persons, including Paktia provincial governor Hakim Taniwal and two U.S. soldiers.

In Washington, Mr. Jawad warned that the violence could worsen.

“If we don’t build up the capacity of the security forces, there is a danger of the terrorist activities spreading to different provinces,” the ambassador said.

NATO commander Gen. Ray Henault has called for an additional 2,000 troops to fight the Taliban. Currently, there are about 20,000 international troops in Afghanistan.

But one analyst involved in the counter-narcotics effort there said international troops already were in danger of wearing out their welcome.

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