Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Another Martyr in Afghanistan

New York Times correspondent Carlotta Gall named several staunch Karzai allies, including Akhunzada and Nurzai, as widely believed to profit from the drug trade, and she quoted unnamed diplomatic sources as saying "there are even reports" that Ahmed Wali Karzai was also linked to the drug trade". Wali Karzai denied the charges, but the president was furious and ordered an investigation into Gall's sources, which turned out to be a senior British diplomat whom the Afghan government briefly declared persona non grata.
Reports about Wali Karzai intensified in June 2006 after the American television network ABC quoted U.S. Army files purloined from the Bagram base describing how Wali Karzai had received money from drug lords. "They want to give my brother a bad name", Wali Karzai retorted. The U.S. military said the report was outdated but did not reject its authority. Wali Karzai lived in Kandahar, where he represented his brother in managing the southern Pashtun tribes. He was criticized by many Pashtuns for allegedly favouring his own tribe and other tribes loyal to the Karzai family, while pushing away tribes who were not natural allies, forcing them to join the Taliban. In the 2005 parliamentary elections, Wali Karzai was elected head of the Kandahar provincial council, further enhancing his power in the south. Many of the former NA warlords - ministers and generals in the north - were also involved in drug trafficking. Ahmed Rashid, Descent Into Chaos
The Karzai clan gained quite the reputation within their country. Little wonder that Afghans in general view them with contempt, knowing the extent to which they contribute to the general aura of graft and corruption, rampant in the country. When the Afghanistan Central Bank ran into problems because its assets were being drained by those in authority, the country's central bank governor fled to the U.S.
The corruption scandal at the bank also named another Karzai brother as being involved in the country's largest private lender, the Kabul Bank. The bank was founded in 2004. And its co-owners included Mahmood Karzai, another brother of President Hamid Karzai. This prominent family certainly has distinguished itself in its service to the country.

And now, another brother who had successfully eluded previous attacks on his life has finally succumbed to one which he was incapable of interpreting as a threat, coming as it did from a trusted old family ally and retainer, one who had been effectively entrusted with defending his life but who had obviously been successfully turned against him. On a pretext of loyalty in a private audience, shooting Ahmed Wali Karzai three times, fatally.

Leaving NATO in a state of shock with the ramifications that will certainly fall into place, making departure even more difficult with a Karzai stalwart who had controlled Kandahar province for years on behalf of his brother dead, and no one in sight to take his place. Particularly so when the governor of the province himself is preparing to leave his post.

Among his many enterprises, Ahmed Wali Karzai operated a number of well-remunerated security companies, who were hired to provide protection for convoys of NATO food, fuel and ammunition. Ahmed Wali Karzai's security enterprise doubtless flourished amazingly once his brother, President Karzai, banned the presence of foreign security companies from Afghanistan.

In a corrupt country accustomed to milking the foreign presence and the international funding meant to benefit the country's infrastructure and fledgling state departments and services, Ahmed Wali Karzai distinguished himself. He was a loyal adjunct of his brother's regime, a trusted friend and adviser. And he maintained good working relations with foreign dignitaries and NGOs.

"Mr. Karzai literally ran southern Afghanistan for his brother and his removal will leave a vacuum, especially now that everyone is looking over their shoulder to see what happens, when the NATO folks disappear", advised Brian MacDonald, senior defence analyst with the Conference of Defence Associations in Ottawa.

President Hamid Karzai is in mourning. "My younger brother was martyred in his house today. This is the life of all Afghan people. I hope these miseries which every Afghan family faces will one day end."

For many it will not. For women and girls in particular. Bibi Aisha, the beautiful young Afghan woman whose father-in-law mutilated her by slicing off her ears and her nose will never see justice. Her father-in-law, though confessing to the mutilation, has been released.

Afghanistan is noted as the worst possible country in the world for women and girls to live in, their rights regularly violated and their futures hampered by a misogynistic culture. When NATO troops depart and the tribal antagonisms once again re-ignite and chaos erupts, it will be the women of Afghanistan whose suffering will represent hell on Earth.

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