Kabul: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has acknowledged that the Central Intelligence Agency has been dropping off bags of cash at his office for a decade, and saying that the money was used for "various purposes".
Karzai expressed gratitude to the US for making the payments. He said that the office of national security has been receiving support from the US for the past 10 years. He described the sums delivered by the CIA as a "small amount".
But former and current advisers of the Afghan leader have said the CIA cash deliveries have totaled tens of millions of dollars over the past decade and have been used to pay off warlords, lawmakers and others whose support the Afghan leader depends upon, reports the New York Times.
US diplomats and soldiers expressed dismay on Monday about the CIA`s cash deliveries, which some said fueled corruption.
Karzai`s comments, made at a news conference in Helsinki, Finland, where he is traveling, were not without precedent. When it emerged in 2010 that one of his top aides was taking bags of cash from Iran, Karzai readily confirmed those reports and expressed gratitude for the money. Iran cut off its payments last year after Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership deal with the US over Iran`s objections.
Afghan officials who described the payments before Monday`s comments from Karzai said the cash from the CIA was basically used as a slush fund, similarly to the way the Iranian money was. Some went to pay supporters; some went to cover other expenses that officials would prefer to keep off the books, like secret diplomatic trips, officials have said.
After Karzai`s statement on Monday, the presidential palace in Kabul said in a statement that the CIA cash "has been used for different purposes, such as in operations, assisting wounded Afghan soldiers and paying rent".
But the cash deliveries to Karzai`s office are of a different magnitude with a far wider impact, helping the palace finance the vast patronage networks that Karzai has used to build his power base, the report said.
The payments appear to run directly counter to American efforts to clean up endemic corruption and encourage the Afghan government to be more responsive to the needs of its constituents, the report added.