Political reform key to Afghan success

Jan. 28, 2010 at 3:25 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Government reform in Afghanistan led by President Hamid Karzai is necessary for the international mission to succeed, a U.S. defense analyst said.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai faced international scrutiny over the transparency in his government following evidence that suggested his re-election in 2009 was mired in fraud.

Karzai oscillated on his commitments to anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan but emerged from a London conference for his country Thursday in step with the international community.

Stephen Biddle, a defense analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, said government reform in Afghanistan requires a conscious effort by Karzai to address the issue himself.

"If we cannot persuade him to do that, we are not going to succeed," he said.

The final communique that emerged from the London conference includes measures related to an independent High Office of Oversight and an Anti-Corruption Tribunal.

Biddle said political change from Karzai is a prerequisite for what political and military planners have in mind for the Afghan strategy, something expressed in the final statement from the London conference.

"Conference participants welcomed the government of Afghanistan's whole-of-government approach to fighting corruption, and its ongoing work to mount a concerted effort to tackle the key drivers of corruption," the communique read.

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