Karzai committed to wiping out graft: Gen. Allen
WASHINGTON (PAN): Afghan President Hamid Karzai is committed to eliminating corruption from the government, a top American commander said on Friday, acknowledging the deep-rooted menace could not be resolved in a day.
“I believe that President Karzai is committed to cleaning up corruption,” General John Allen, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told the Charlie Rose show on the PBS news channel in an interview.
“Now, obviously, we didn't arrive here in a day and we're not going to solve this problem in a day and I believe that he and the leadership within the Afghan government desire ultimately to neutralise and to clean up this corruption in a way that permits this government to be a viable member of the international community,” he said.
Allen acknowledged that there is corruption in the government. “But Karzai has been clear. He desires to end this culture of impunity. And that public statement on his part has been followed up by actions frankly on his part, that he has established a presidential executive commission to partner with us in certain measures to reduce criminal patronage influence in the country,” he said.
“Both of the security ministries are undertaking transparency and accountability surveys of their ministries so they can chart those areas where there is corruption, idea being to (be) in partnership with us to take up a series of measures to reduce corruption, ultimately to produce a fair and capable security mechanism that can defend the government and provide President Karzai and his successor eventually the kind of time necessary to develop the institutions of government and to put down strong routes of democracy,” Allen said.
Responding to questions, Allen added Karzai enjoys significant popularity among the people of Afghanistan. “I think they desire and support a credible, honest government in Kabul. And so, my sense is that as the ANSF grow in their capability to defend and to protect those people, that confidence in the government will continue to grow as well,” he said.
“That’s what we’re seeking. We’re seeking the people of Afghanistan having confidence not just in their government but also in their security forces. And if the two of those things can exist, can exist together at the same time, then I’m confident for the future of Afghanistan,” he noted.
Describing Karzai as an Afghan patriot, Allen said he is certainly a historian of Afghan history. “He is an individual, in all the conversations that I've had with him, the conversations are always constructive, they're positive, but we can talk about difficult issues: the Koran burning, the shootings in Panjwai and while there was tension in the room, he was always a very genteel host,” he said.
“His hospitality is legendary, but the conversations can be very difficult conversations, yet we can work our way through these issues, and we do on a regular basis, and I appreciate his leadership in that regard,” Allen said.
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