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Security forces need $6b annually: Zakhilwal

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Hazrat-Omar-ZakhilwalMore foreign aid would be needed to strengthen Afghan security forces after the drawdown of international troops and the current insurgency in the country, officials said on Wednesday.

The view was expressed at a daylong meeting, attended by Afghan officials, representatives of foreign countries and international donor organisations. The event was aimed at preparations for next month’s NATO summit in the UK.

Continued international aid to Afghanistan will be one of the issues on the agenda for discussion at the Wale summit.

Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal told reporters NATO’s Chicago summit had pledged two and half years back $ 4.1 billion in annual aid to Afghan security forces.  But today’s requirements had not been considered at that time.

Afghan forces annually needed $6 billion, he reckoned, hoping the international fraternity would reiterate its vow to meet the Afghan government demands. Ways of delivering assistance were also discussed at the meeting.

Interior Minister Mohammad Omar Daudzai stressed the need for enhanced international aid after an increase in the strength of security forces, especially policewomen, new equipment and improving human rights standards prisons -- the government’s key programs for the next five years. 

Daudzai explained about 150,000 foreign troops had pulled out of the country, necessitating an increase in the number of Afghan forces. The current strength of Afghan National Army (ANA) and police is more than 350,000.

The government intended to purchase advanced planes, weapons and ammunitions to strengthen the forces, the minister said. Prisons in 11 provinces are housed in rented buildings.

Deputy Defence Minister Enayatullah Nazari said more cash was needed for arming the security forces, particularly the army. Afghanistan would remain accountable to its global partners, he concluded.