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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Afghans See Little Change Since 9/11

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday expressed solidarity with the United States on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and paid tribute to the sacrifices of America's "sons and daughters" in rebuilding Afghanistan.

But on the street in Kabul, many Afghans grumbled that they had not seen much improvement in their lives in the five years since a U.S.-led invasion toppled the repressive Taliban regime for hosting al-Qaida leader and Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

"We understand the tremendous loss you endured that day, for we also have suffered long at the hands of terrorism," Karzai said in a statement.

"Regrettably, it took the tragedy of 9/11 for the world to appreciate the gravity of the threat that international terrorism posed to the security of the world."

Karzai, who won Afghanistan's first post-Taliban election in 2004, expressed the "deep appreciation of the Afghan people to the people of the United States for the sacrifices of your sons and daughters in Afghanistan, and for your generous support to the rebuilding of our country."

Ordinary citizens were less appreciative.

"We cannot see many changes in our lives," said taxi driver Abdul Jabar, 43. "The salary of government employees is very low and the cost of living is very high. Thousands of people are jobless -- even literate and educated people. You see hundreds of beggars."

"In the last five years, they promised a lot but did nothing," said Sharifa Sahar, 38, a high school history teacher and mother of four children. "I don't want to say nothing has changed since Sept. 11, 2001, in our country, but look at the life of local people. Their life is going from bad to worse."

Despite the continued presence of about 20,000 U.S. forces fighting al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and about the same number of NATO troops, and billions of dollars in aid, a resurgent Taliban resistance has shaken the country, while corruption has stymied development.

Mohammed Shafi Nadim, 29, a construction engineer, recalled hearing about the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York on the radio, as the fundamentalist Taliban regime had banned television. "I was surprised and shocked. ... I couldn't believe that could be the work of Taliban and al-Qaida," he said.

Not everyone was pessimistic about the future of Afghanistan five years after events in the United States shaped the war-ravaged country's destiny.

"Five years ago, we had no telecommunications system, we had no good highways. Human rights and women's rights were a big concern. We had no hope for the future. We shouldn't forget that these achievements were all the result of the Sept. 11 incident in New York," said Ahmed Jawed, 23, a university student.

"I was not hopeful five years ago, and I am optimistic for the future now. The only concern for me is security," he said.