Obama administration, experts admit that civilian gals in Afghanistan largely unmet

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Washington, Oct.12 (ANI): Obama administration officials have admitted that the United States is falling far short of goals to fight Afghanistan's endemic corruption and to create a functioning government and legal system, besides making the country's police force competent.

Conducting interviews with senior administration and military officials and accessing recent reports on how far Afghanistan has progressed in the nearly seven months after Obama announced a stepped-up civilian effort to bolster his deployment of 17,000 additional American troops, the New York Times found that many civil institutions are deteriorating as much as the country's security.

According to the paper, Afghanistan is now so dangerous; that many aid workers cannot travel outside Kabul to advise farmers on crops.

It was also discovered that the judiciary is so weak that Afghans increasingly turn to a shadow Taliban court system because a lot of the rural people see signs of deliverance in terms of justice.

Administration officials describe Obama as being impatient with the civilian progress so far.

The disputed August 20 Afghan presidential election has laid bare the ineffectiveness of the government of President Hamid Karzai, administration officials said, and frozen steps toward reform.

The vote was so tainted by evidence of fraud and irregularities that no clear winner emerged.

Administration officials have blamed the election for many of the setbacks and said a resolution to the vote - which some fear will not happen until next spring - would put them in a better position to move forward on civilian reforms.

Officials said over the weekend that Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, had prepared options that include a maximum troop increase of about 80,000, a number highly unlikely to be considered seriously by the White House.

Much of the official focus, however, has been on a lower option that the general presented, for 40,000 additional troops. The United States currently has about 68,000 troops in the country.

Administration officials have said there was some progress on Afghan education and access to health care.

State Department officials also said they were close to their target of having 974 aid workers in Afghanistan by year's end as part of what they called Obama's civilian "surge." They said 575 civilians were on the ground now.

Henry Crumpton, a former top C.I.A. and State Department official who is an informal adviser to General McChrystal, called those stepped-up efforts inadequate.

"Right now, the overwhelming majority of civilians are in Kabul, and the overwhelming majority never leave their compounds. Our entire system of delivering aid is broken, and very little of the aid is getting to the Afghan people," said Crumpton, who recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan.

Anthony H. Cordesman, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who has advised General McChrystal, said that while progress had been made since 2001, when American-led forces toppled the Taliban, the overall effort "has been a nightmare; vast amounts have been wasted."

Since 2001, the United States has allocated nearly 13 billion dollars for civilian aid to Afghanistan, officials at the State Department said, and other countries have given or promised billions more. But in a sign of the difficulties of working with one of the poorest countries in the world, the Defense Department report in January noted that although the Afghan Ministry of Finance is responsible for tracking international aid, there is "no reliable data on the total amount of international assistance that has been pledged or dispersed to the country." (ANI)

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