James Forsyth

Even by the standards of Karzai’s government this is extraordinary

Even by the standards of Karzai's government this is extraordinary
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The story, ‘Afghan Minister accused of taking bribe’ might seem depressingly predictable. But the accusations in today’s Washington Post are shocking even by the standards of the Karzai government. The paper reports that a US official has confirmed that there is a ‘high degree of certainty’ that the Afghan Minister of Mines took a $30 million bribe from a Chinese company in December 2007 to award it a $2.9 billion contract. It should be noted, that the Minister of Mines strongly denies the accusation.

But the timing of this story and its source, a US official, is interesting. It seems to fit with a pattern of efforts to try and push Karzai into cleaning up his government’s act and cutting down on the most egregious examples of corruption. If Karzai refuses to do this, it will become ever harder for Western governments to justify to their publics supporting his government.