by RAY FLEMING
ONE of the best dressed men in the world will be in Paris today to see whether he can raise 50 million dollars. President Hamid Karsai of Afghanistan is never seen without a perfectly tailored gown and his trademark Karakui lambswool hat, but he claims that his country needs another substantial investment from donor countries to top up the 50 million he was given in 2002. He wants it, he says, to boost food production, for incentives to woo farmers away from opium production and also to help pay for next year's presidential election. Karsai is unlikely to find donors in such a generous mood as they were six years ago - apart from their own economic problems several of them are questioning whether they have got value for money from the first tranche. Many of the criticisms centre on the President himself who is thought to be weak and ineffective in dealing with the rampant corruption in all strata of Afghanistan society. Although the capital Kabul presents a modern and prosperous face to the world, there is nothing remotely like it elsewhere in the country. The old joke that President Karsai is actually Mayor of Kabul still holds good -- he rarely strays from the presidential compound. Last year Karsai blocked the appointment of Paddy Ashdown as the UN's co-ordinator of Afghanistan. There is now talk of US Ambassador Zalmay Kkalizad, an Afghan-American, standing against President Karsai in next year's election - it might be a good move.

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