Foreign Ministry spokesman Omar Samad denied hundreds more American officials in ministries amounted to a colonisation of the Afghan interim government, a criticism levelled at Paul Bremer - the US imposed administrator of occupied Iraq.

"I don't want to compare it to the situation in Iraq," Samad said.

However, the Foreign Ministry confirmed the US is planning to bring in hundreds of advisers to administer reconstruction under a new $1 billion aid pledge.

"Afghanistan is a different country and a case by itself, but there is a need for modern-style management and expertise within the civil administration," the spokesman added.
   
Samad conceded there were some who saw the appointment of US officials as an ill-planned measure, but emphasised the aim was not to Americanise the rehabilitation but to bolster an international effort to rebuild the country. 
       


"They are calling it the Bremerisation of Afghanistan"

Barnett Rubin,
US Professor of Afghan Studies

"In cases where there is no Afghan expertise, we are considering bringing in non-Afghan experts," he said.
   
But Ambassador William Taylor, newly appointed US coordinator for Afghanistan, told US National Public Radio (NPR) on Tuesday he expected hundreds of senior-level advisers to begin work with the government of Afghanistan both at the senior and technical levels.
   
Expert criticism

NPR also quoted Barnett Rubin, a professor and Afghan expert at New York University, as saying he had heard the plan could involve 15 ambassador-level advisers and 250 more at lower levels.
   
"They are calling it the Bremerisation of Afghanistan," he said, referring to the US civil administration in Iraq.
   
NPR said Rubin had expressed concern that the plan could result in a colonial-style administration that would undermine efforts to build up Afghan institutions.
   
The billion-dollar pledge comes after unrelenting criticism from US legislators, the United Nations, aid agencies and Afghan leaders that America is failing to deliver on Afghanistan's recovery.

The Afghan army was supposed to
be 70,000 strong, at the moment
there are less than 4,000

"We cannot spend seven times more in Bosnia and Kosovo than we do in Afghanistan and then pretend we are nation-building," said a senior US official.

Need for investment

The United States attacked Afghanistan in 2001 to remove its Taliban government, who had refused to extradite Al-Qaida leader Usama bin Ladin to the United States.

President Hamid Karzai then took office under US protection, but complaints have mounted among Afghans at the slow pace of reconstruction and the amount of money swallowed up in wages for foreign advisers and administrators.

Elections are due to be held in Afghanistan next June, a few months before the US presidential poll, and Washington is keen to secure Mr Karzai's re-election and be able to present Afghanistan as a foreign policy success.

President George Bush once promised a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan, but aid ear-marked for Afghanistan is dwarfed by the estimated $900 million a month the US spends on its military forces in the country.