Afghanistan's international donors are caught in a bind. Their efforts to help with the country's reconstruction have borne virtually no fruit.
The futility of those efforts haunts many Pakistani officials and Western diplomats, who worry that the war could spill into other parts of Central and South Asia.
``Some donors feel there is no use to give us money, to build something, when tomorrow it will be destroyed,'' says Sotorios Mousouris, the United Nations secretary-general's personal representative for Afghanistan. So far, donors have given only $6 million in response to a UN appeal in April for $62 million to support its programs during a six-month period ending this September. That response is a sharp drop from the previous six-month period when $35 million was donated.
``This is something that should be an alarm for the Afghan leaders,'' cautions Mr. Mousouris. He urges rival Afghan leaders to set aside their differences and work toward peace. According to Mousouris, future aid flows will depend largely on what role the UN gets to play in resolving the Afghan dispute. ``The donors will be much more generous when the UN becomes more involved in the political process,'' he says.
Other diplomats are increasingly pessimistic over the prospect of large aid flows. ``The world has other things on its agenda. There is growing fatigue ... because all this money would go into a kitty, which constantly dries up because of the war and the destruction,'' one senior Western diplomat says.
During the past two years, Pakistani officials have been concerned by reports of young Afghan mujahideen becoming involved in insurgencies in some of the newly independent Central Asian republics. ``Western countries must realize that the consequences will only destabilize the region further and also keep on fueling a major international problem like the flow of narcotics,'' says one official.
``We are dealing with an entire generation [that] knows no other trade than using a weapon,'' says another. ``If these people are not ... rehabilitated, we may be in for a nightmare that few can imagine.''