Afghan president blames foreigners for corruption



Afghanistan: President Hamid Karzai on Saturday blamed foreigners for most of the corruption in Afghanistan and said the withdrawal of NATO troops in 2014 would help rid the country of graft. More than 11 years after a US-led invasion led to billions of dollars in aid flowing into one of the world's poorest countries, Afghanistan ranks among the most corrupt nations in the world.

The issue has been brought into focus by the Kabul Bank scandal, which saw the nation's once-biggest lender pushed to the point of collapse by a fraud running into hundreds of millions of dollars. In a speech to mark International Anti-Corruption Day, Karzai said: "The corruption in our administration is small, the major corruption that involves hundreds of millions of dollars is not ours... it has been imposed on us".

"The big corruption is in transactions and contracts involving outsiders in Afghanistan... these contracts are given to senior government officials or their relatives," he said. The Afghan government has previously pointed the finger at the contract systems of the international community for spreading corruption, although it admits graft is rife within its own ranks.

Karzai said that in 2014 when "foreign forces have left Afghanistan... their contracts, their administration will gradually disappear". "This will help Afghanistan get rid of corruption, and it will be good for Afghanistan," he added. NATO has around 100,000 troops in the country fighting an insurgency by Taliban Islamists, but they are due to withdraw by the end of 2014. There are widespread fears that civil war could follow their departure.

Donors have pledged billions of dollars in aid after NATO combat troops withdraw from Afghanistan, but have conditioned payment on corruption being brought under control. In the Kabul Bank scandal, Afghanistan's biggest for years, a foreign-funded inquiry reported recently that a staggering $900 million fraud had ruined the bank and top politicians had dictated who should be prosecuted over the theft.

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