Obama Warns Karzai to Focus on Tackling Corruption

November 8, 2009

After a much disputed election Hamid Karzai has been officially declared the winner of the Afghan Presidential election. Whilst congratulating him via a phone call, President Obama warned Mr. Karzai that he must take on the rampant drug trade and corruption which has seen the revival of the Taliban. President Obama stated to reporters that what he was seeking was “a sense on the part of President Karzai that, after some difficult years in which there has been some drift that in fact he’s going to move boldly and forcefully forward and take advantage of the international community’s interest in his country to initiate reforms internally. That has to be one of our highest priorities.”

Although administration officials remained from providing names, they and their European counterparts would prefer to see a few arrests made of “the blatantly corrupt people” within the Afghan government. Among the unofficial list are Mr. Karzai’s running mate, Marshal Muhammad Qasim Fahim who is suspected of drug trafficking, General Abdul Rashid Dostum who is accused of being involved in the killings of thousands of Taliban POW’s, and Mr. Karzai’s own brother Ahmed Wali Karzai who is believed to play a key role in the flourishing Opium trade in the country.

“The proof is not going to be in words; it’s going to be in deeds. And we are looking forward to consulting closely with his (Karzai’s) government in the weeks and months to come, to assure that the Afghan people are actually seeing progress on the ground” the President said. The corruption matter has been a key issue in President Obama’s decisions on strategy in Afghanistan. While his decision on the matter is still a few weeks away, number of troops in Afghanistan is something Mr. Obama can change as he sees fit.