Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Afghanistan President's Brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, under Investigation

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Afghanistan President's Brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, under Investigation

Article excerpt

Afghan military investigators accuse Ahmed Wali Karzai, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's controversial half-brother, of protecting business allies in a land deal in Kandahar.

Afghan military investigators have accused Ahmed Wali Karzai, U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai's controversial half-brother, of intervening to protect powerful allies who are squatting illegally on government property in southern Afghanistan.

In response, Ahmed Wali Karzai shut down the Kandahar legislature this week by refusing to lead the provincial council until he can clear his name.

"The shura is not going to do anything until this thing is cleared up," he told McClatchy in a telephone interview Monday, referring to the 14-member council. "If they can find one thing in this report that is true, I am ready to accept any kind of punishment."

The eight-page Defense Ministry report comes as American strategists are counting on the Kandahar kingpin to be a key ally in the evolving U.S.-led effort to drive the Taliban out of their spiritual capital and bolster a pro-Western government there.

However, the latest dispute pits Ahmed Wali Karzai, a member of Afghanistan's dominant Pashtun ethnic group, against the local Afghan Army corps commander, who's considered an ally of a rival Pashtun leader, and against the defense ministry in Kabul, which is largely controlled by Tajiks from the northeast of the country.

Business rivals fight over land

According to the report, a copy of which McClatchy obtained, Afghan officials who are responsible for protecting military land in Kandahar told investigators that Ahmed Wali Karzai intervened to stop them from retaking 150 acres that are being used in part by two Karzai allies who control much of the private security business in Kandahar.

"When the delegation asked these officials why they had neglected their work, they told them, 'We were told orally by Ahmed Wali not to touch these guys; let them work,' " said Maj. Gen. Sher Mohammed Zazai, the Afghan Army corps commander in Kandahar, who ordered the investigation.

Investigators concluded that Ahmed Wali Karzai's friends, allies and relatives from the Pashtun Popalzai tribe were building offices, housing projects and parking lots illegally on more than 1,000 acres of government land in and around Kandahar city. …

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