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Afghans weary of yet another summit ahead of Bonn Conference

An international conference on Afghanistan's future opens Monday in Bonn, Germany. But on the streets of Kabul, Afghans have low expectations a decade into the Western presence here.

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“If the coming 10 years are like the last 10 years, it will make the Afghans very concerned. After the first Bonn Conference they were saying that they were bringing democracy to Afghanistan, but they gave the country to warlords and jihadist groups,” says Babrak Shinwari, a former member of Parliament from Nangarhar.

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Despite billions of dollars of international investment in Afghanistan’s reconstruction – more than $70 billion from the US alone – the nation has seen questionable progress.

Human Rights Watch was one of several organizations to issue a cautionary statement in the days leading up to the conference. The rights organization warned of a situation “dominated by poor governance, lack of rule of law, impunity for militias and police, laws and policies that harm women, and conflict-related abuses.”

Still, there is hope enough time remains to overcome the mistakes of the last ten years. In addition to time, many say improvement will also require enduring international funding.

The Afghan government currently gets 90 percent of its public spending budget from international donors and the World Bank recently warned that it will depend on billions of dollars in foreign assistance for years to come in order to stay afloat.

“From the Bonn Conference what we hope is that the Afghan government makes their demands and suggestions in a fair way that can convince the international community to keep their political and economic assistance for the long-term and maintain these achievements we’ve made over the last several years with the support of the international community,” says Zaifnoon Safi, a member of parliament from Laghman Province.

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