Washington: The controversial brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai is ready to "stand out of the way" and play a less important role in Kandahar province, a
top NATO commander said Thursday.
British Major General Nicholas Carter told reporters that Ahmed Wali Karzai, chairman of Kandahar`s provincial legislative council who is widely accused of corruption, plans
to gradually cede power to the governor of the province.
"I think he will increasingly stand out of the way and allow the governor to do that governing. That is the strategy that we`re encouraging," Carter said by video link from
"And the early indications are that he is creating the space for the governor to fill," Carter said.
The Afghan president`s younger half-brother is seen as a powerful figure in the Kandahar region and has denied widespread allegations that he has links to the lucrative
opium trade and private security firms.
Western officials and analysts view him as a potential obstacle to winning the trust of local Afghans in a pivotal bid by US and Afghan forces to break the Taliban`s influence
in and around Kandahar city.
Carter, who leads the southern regional command for the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, sidestepped allegations swirling around the Afghan president`s brother but alluded to his tainted reputation.
"He would tell you -- and he`s either a candidate for an Oscar, or he`s the most maligned man in Afghanistan -- that he is trying to help his country, that he`s trying to help us and
he`s trying to help his people," Carter said.
Ahmed Wali Karzai also maintains that he would rather be watching his favorite English football club Chelsea than help rule Kandahar, he said.
"Now whether you believe it not, the key to this is if you make it clear to him, that it`s the governor that`s going to govern."
The general said he expected the role of the governor of Kandahar province, Tooryalai Wesa, to gradually increase while Karzai and other members of the provincial council would play more of an advisory role.
"That is what is currently underway. And we will very much judge success by the extent to which that balance switches," he said.
Carter said he hoped that military and political efforts underway would show results by the fall, with Afghans in Kandahar enjoying improved security and services from their