TOKYO — Afghanistan got the financial commitment it was looking for Sunday, but whether that money is used as intended in one of the world’s most corrupt countries is an open question.

International donors on Sunday pledged $16 billion in development aid for Afghanistan over the next four years, provided the nation can reduce corruption and lawlessness, but some experts were wary of language in the declaration that lacked consequences for failure to meet such goals.

“We did not get all we wanted,” said Yama Torabi, director of the anti-corruption group Integrity Watch Afghanistan.

One line in the declaration calls for Afghan officials to make an annual declaration of their assets, but mentioned neither a mechanism to verify the numbers nor a penalty for failing to do so.

“We cannot trust (officials) anymore on the basis of good intentions,” said Torabi, who was also disappointed in the lack of specific measure mentioned for transparency in the mining industry, likely to be a lucrative enterprise for Afghanistan.

The total in pledges from the conference roughly equals the $4 billion a year the Japanese Foreign Ministry — co-host of the annual Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan — had hoped to secure on behalf of Afghanistan.

The funding is intended to help the county develop its economy and strengthen its security through 2017. Foreign combat troops are slated to withdraw in 2014, leaving the nation to manage its own security.

The largesse from about 70 countries and organizations at the conference came with stern caveats that the flow of money would end without serious reforms that include curbing corruption, embracing the rule of law and ensuring women’s rights and participation.

But on the streets of Kabul, most residents roll their eyes when asked about the government, having little faith in promised reforms.

“The government does nothing,” said one resident.

Unchecked graft and government incompetence is eroding what little trust the public had in their government, Torabi said.

“It’s more than anger; it’s disenchantment,” he said. “Nobody believes that anything substantial is going to happen in the coming months.”

Briefly addressing the assembled donors, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasized the need for reform.

“That must include fighting corruption, improving governance, strengthening the rule of law, increasing access to economic opportunity for all Afghans, especially for women,” Clinton said.

That was a refrain repeated by dozens of participants. The commissioner for development for the European Union, Andris Piebalgs, said that the EU is spending 1 billion euros a year on development assistance. He called on Afghan officials to enact electoral reform for the presidential election in 2014 and to respect human rights, especially for women.

“I would like to stress that tangible progress in these areas will be necessary for the EU and member states to maintain support to the government of Afghanistan over the transformation decade,” Piebalgs said.

“The $16 billion is going to be delivered only — and only if — there is on the side of the Afghan authorities a delivery in human rights, especially for women, in governance, in anti-corruption,” said Staffan de Mistura, the deputy foreign minister of Italy who is also chief of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

“When we’ve been raising the issue about women’s rights in particular, the Afghan authorities tell us, ‘It’s our culture, and we have a right to our culture and religion.’ And they are right. But we, the international community, have the right to respond to our taxpayers about how the money will be used.”

During a quick stopover in Kabul on Saturday, Clinton announced that the Obama administration was elevating Afghanistan’s security status to a “major non-NATO ally,” joining a group of some 15 countries, including Japan, South Korea, Israel and Kuwait.

The new status gives Afghanistan greater ease in buying and financing defense equipment and in receiving assistance in training troops. It also reinforces the message that the U.S. doesn’t intend to abandon the country militarily, even if most of its troops are gone.

Clinton told the conference that the Obama administration would ask Congress to keep funding levels stable for Afghanistan through 2017. However, President Barack Obama’s requested 2013 budget appropriation for reconstruction funding in Afghanistan is about 34 percent less than he asked for in 2012, according to an April report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Congress has appropriated about $90 billion for rebuilding Afghanistan since 2002, according to the report.

Despite Japan’s sluggish economy and the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the country will provide $3 billion over the next five years. Germany committed to its current rate of giving, pledging $536 million a year.

The so-called Tokyo Declaration that was issued at the end of the conference sets benchmarks Afghanistan must meet in order to receive all the pledged money. The document includes broadly worded indicators to determine whether those benchmarks have been met.

Representatives of a collective of civil organizations from Afghanistan and Japan issued a statement that, while praising the outcome of the conference, noted disappointment in some key areas.

Among the shortcomings were the lack of funding commitment for the full transition period of 2015-24; clear financial commitments are not made to basic social services; and “vague promises” about protection of women’s rights.

The declaration’s benchmarks will be assessed during annual donor meetings and bi-annual ministry meetings, the first of which will be held in 2014 in Great Britain.

Developing an economy and a just, fair society in a country where three-quarters of the population is illiterate will likely prove a daunting task, however.

With a GDP per capita of $528 in 2011, it ranks among the poorest countries in the world, according to The World Bank. The modest goal of doubling GDP over a generation — roughly two decades — would require a growth rate of 6 percent a year.

Annual growth between now and 2025 is projected at 4.9 percent, according to The World Bank. However, if the country is able to exploit its two most promising sectors, agriculture and mining, growth could be as high as 6.4 percent.

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Wyatt Olson is based in the Honolulu bureau, where he has reported on military and security issues in the Indo-Pacific since 2014. He was Stars and Stripes’ roving Pacific reporter from 2011-2013 while based in Tokyo. He was a freelance writer and journalism teacher in China from 2006-2009.

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