Kabul: After "tough" talks with US Sen
John Kerry, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Friday he would
make sure that two Western-backed anti-corruption units could
pursue investigations free of outside interference or
In meetings on Tuesday and today, Kerry told Karzai that
his efforts to battle corruption were crucial if he wanted to
retain the support of US taxpayers at a time when more
American troops are dying in the war. US lawmakers are
expressing doubt that the military effort can succeed without
a serious campaign against bribery and graft that have eroded
the Afghan people`s trust in their government.
Kerry, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, told reporters his meetings with the Afghan leader
were marked by candor and sometimes "very tough conversation."
His visit follows the recent arrest of one of Karzai`s
top advisers, Mohammad Zia Salehi, for allegedly accepting a
car in exchange for his help in exerting pressure on Afghan
officials to ease off in another corruption case. US officials
see Salehi`s arrest as a test case of Karzai`s willingness to
Soon after Salehi`s arrest, Karzai sought more oversight
of the work done by the Major Crimes Task Force and the
Sensitive Investigative Unit. The two units, which are
mentored by US and British law enforcement officials, conduct
corruption probes of high-level Afghan government officials
and then feed cases to Afghan prosecutors.
After hearing from a panel he asked to review the work of
the two units, Karzai released a statement early this month
saying that all cases under investigation or completed should
be reviewed by the panel and reported to the president. That
sparked concern that Karzai was attempting to derail
corruption probes of top officials in his government.
US officials have been anxiously waiting since then to
see if Karzai would rein in the anti-corruption investigators.
While the Karzai government does intend to do more work to
strengthen the statutory basis for the units` work, the
president said in a statement that he and Kerry agreed that
they "would always operate as independent sovereign Afghan
entities, run by Afghans, allowed to pursue their mission of
enhancing transparency and combating corruption free from
foreign interference or political influence."