Afghan AG: West should not lead corruption fight

Afghan`s top prosecutor said that while President Hamid Karzai backs the work of Western-supported anti-corruption teams, he wants investigations to be led by Afghans and free of interference from international advisers.

Kabul: Afghanistan`s top prosecutor said
on Thursday that while President Hamid Karzai backs the work of
Western-supported anti-corruption teams, he wants
investigations to be led by Afghans and free of interference
from international advisers.

New rules are being drafted to regulate the activities
of two investigative units probing corruption, which has
undermined public trust in Karzai`s government and its efforts
to win the loyalty of many Afghans and pull them away from the
Taliban.

Although Karzai has promised to let the investigative
units operate independently, US officials fear the president
will use the new rules to rein in or derail corruption probes
of top officials.

"The foreigners cannot make decisions," Attorney
General Mohammad Ishaq Aloko said. "They can`t give orders to
do this, or do that. They can`t interfere to say `capture this
person` or `release that person.`"

He said that Karzai wants the role of Western mentors
to be restricted to logistics, training and consultation. He
said the rules were being reviewed at the Ministry of Justice
and could take weeks to finalise.

US Rep Rick Larsen, a Democrat from Washington state,
issued a statement yesterday saying that any effort by Karzai
to limit international assistance in anti-corruption
investigations was a mistake.

"President Karzai must take a zero-tolerance stance
against corruption to ensure the Taliban is the enemy and not
a choice," said Larsen, who recently visited Afghanistan.

US and British advisers insist they are not directing
cases, only mentoring prosecutors and investigators at
Afghanistan`s Major Crimes Task Force and Sensitive
Investigative Unit.

Karzai, however, suspects the Western advisers are
heavily influencing anti-corruption cases. Karzai was angered
by the recent arrest of one of his close aides, Mohammad Zia
Salehi, the chief of administration for Afghanistan`s National
Security Council. Salehi, who has not been formally charged,
was arrested in July for allegedly accepting a car in exchange
for his help in thwarting another corruption case involving a
company that handles huge money transfers worldwide. Karzai
quickly ordered his release.

PTI

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