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What happens when troops - and money - leave Afghanistan?

The drawdown of foreign troops – now slated for 2013 – could destabilize Afghanistan's economy – or, according to some, help stem rampant corruption.

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Ms. Najiba is one of many Afghan women who have benefited from the presence of foreigners. She not only has a job outside her home, but a high-level one.

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Her organization has been self-sustaining since mid-2005, but she says that without foreign organizations holding the purse strings for many lucrative contracts and pressuring companies to hire women, it’s unlikely that Afghanistan would have as many women in the workplace as it does now.

Najiba says she does not think the new time table gives Afghanistan enough time to prepare.

Indeed, there are daily reminders that the country is far from secure. On Sunday, a car bomb left at least seven people dead and another 19 injured in the restive city of Kandahar. The southern region of Afghanistan has seen the largest concentration of foreign troops, yet remains one of the more troubled spots in the country.

News of the bombing came just one day after the United Nations released a report indicating that civilian causalities increased for the fifth consecutive year in 2011. The number climbed 8 percent, from 2,790 civilian deaths in 2010 to 3,021 last year.

Some say it's best that foreign military presence ends

Still, there is a population of Afghans who think they may ultimately be better off without any foreign military presence.

While it's true that his organization benefited from the help of foreign organizations, says Lal Gul Lal, who has run the Afghanistan Human Rights Organization since 1997, AHRO can survive on donations from wealthy Afghans as it did when it first began.

“After almost 11 years, they [NATO] didn’t do anything to create a permanent solution to Afghanistan’s problems,” says Mr. Lal. “I think if they leave Afghanistan there will be no effect.”

There is even some hope that cuts in foreign spending could ultimately lead to less corruption in Afghan society – a major concern in a nation ranked the second most-corrupt in the world by Transparency International.

Already, the US has determined that more than $60 billion has been lost in Afghanistan and Iraq contracting due to fraud, mismanagement, and lack of oversight.

“If we get less money than now and we have a transparent administration, I think that will be better than we are now. We have NGOs working in different sectors, but they are corrupt and grabbing money and no one knows where all the money goes,” says Ismattuallh Shinwari, a member of parliament from Nangarhar Province.

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