The international community stands ready to help meet the needs of Afghanistan's people in reconstructing their war-torn country, officials said today at the opening of a three-day conference in Islamabad sponsored jointly by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Asian Development Bank.
World Bank Vice President for South Asia Mieko Nishimizu said the Conference on Preparing for Afghanistan's Reconstruction offered an opportunity for the entire assistance community to listen. "I did not come to this conference to tell you how the World Bank and other donors are going to rebuild Afghanistan," she said. "How dare we think about rebuilding Afghanistan without listening to the sovereign people?"
The Conference, which has drawn over 300 participants including a large number of Afghans, also heard from Yoshihiro Iwasaki of the Asian Development Bank, who stressed that the Bank's support would evolve "in full partnership with the men and women of Afghanistan." He pledged also to fully collaborate with other international financial institutions and partners to reach this goal.
David Lockwood, UNDP Deputy Director for Asia and the Pacific, called for immediate action in response to recent events. "If we are going to help break the cycle of increasing desperate dependency on external assistance, we have to act quickly, and with a clear plan of action which can be readily supported by all parties and factions," he said.
Zubair Iqbal of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expressed hope that the meeting would begin to clarify the respective roles of the various institutions that would be involved in Afghanistan's reconstruction. For its part, he said, the IMF would aim to help Afghanistan establish a functional financial and payments system while improving its capacity to implement macroeconomic policies to ensure that reconstruction would take place in a non-inflationary environment.
Following the opening session, participants began discussion of Afghanistan's specific challenges in the immediate post-conflict recovery period.