KABUL: Donor nations are likely to pledge a total of $4 billion in civilian assistance for Afghanistan at an aid conference in Japan next month, President Hamid Karzai said on Thursday in a national speech aimed at curbing corruption in his country.
"Such an amount, more or less, will be pledged for the Afghan economy at the Tokyo conference," Karzai said during a specially convened session of parliament, indicating the support would come after most foreign combat troops left in 2014.
Donors will gather in Tokyo to decide on future foreign support for reconstruction and development in desperately poor Afghanistan, which is still heavily reliant on aid, and suffers from widespread graft more than ten years into the NATO-led war.
The head of Afghanistan's central bank said this week his country would need $6-7 billion a year in aid over the next decade to help the economy grow.
But the government is under pressure from Western backers to do more to fight corruption, and reassure donors that their money will not be squandered through contract fraud and theft.
Karzai called for the United States to send former central bank governor Abdul Qadir Fitrat back to Afghanistan for trial, a move that would improve the credibility of his anti-corruption efforts.
Fitrat announced his resignation a year ago during a visit to the U.S., saying he feared for his life as a result of his role in investigating a scandal surrounding Kabulbank, which collapsed in 2010 with outstanding loans of almost $1 billion.
Karzai's government has yet to prosecute a single high-level corruption case, despite being ranked one of the world's most graft-affected countries by the Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.
Highlighting the worries among Karzai's backers, Britain's aid watchdog earlier this year called on the government in London to tighten its oversight of the aid program in Afghanistan.
Karzai last year blamed foreigners for the massive scale of corruption in his country after a scandal involving the near-collapse of the biggest private financial institution, Kabul Bank, which swept up powerful figures close to the presidency.
In Thursday's speech to the fractious parliament, for which large parts of central Kabul were locked down to guard against insurgents, a somber Karzai said the influence of warlords was strengthening in some parts of central Afghanistan ahead of NATO's exit, and national elections also slated for 2014.
He also said militant attacks were mounting on Afghan security forces and told MPs that Afghans would have only themselves to blame if security worsened in the future.
Afghanistan would require help in keeping its growing police and army equipped and ready to battle the Taliban and its allies, with donor nations also expected to provide $4.1 billion a year post-2014 to finance local security forces, he said.