David Blackburn

Carry on Karzai

Carry on Karzai
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The New York Times reports that 15 Afghan ministers, past and present, are under investigation on suspicion of corruption. Obama’s and Brown’s unequivocal stance on the Mk.3 Karzai government leaves the president with no choice but to sacrifice a few lambs.

However, if ever there’s a bolthole Karzai will scamper through it. Corruption is Afghanistan’s chief political currency and Karzai’s authority, such as it is, rests on backhanders. Oligarchic Afghan law decrees that ministers must be prosecuted by a specially convened court, and guess who controls judicial patronage? It’s an ingenious constitutional contrivance for seeming to do something but actually doing nothing.

The recent history of Afghan special courts is hardly illustrious. In 2004, an anti-narcotics tribunal was founded, armed with draconian sanctions and supported by a dope-busting SWAT team. There were no convictions…in Afghanistan?

Afghanistan’s inept political and judicial structure render high-profile crooks, drug-lords, warlords and politicians virtually immune from justice. Karzai owes everything to these men and can/will do as little as possible to regulate their operations. If corruption is to be tackled, the international community will have to play its part.