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Japanese editorial excerpts -2-.

TOKYO, Sept. 8 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the Japanese press:

MR. KARZAI'S CORRUPTION PROBLEM (The Japan Times, an English-language daily)

The key to a viable Afghanistan, one that is stable and peaceful and commands the allegiance of a majority of its citizens, is an honest and credible government. The Taliban and other insurgencies are a threat, but they gain traction only because Afghans feel that the government in Kabul does not look out for their interests. Corruption is a corrosive that destroys the legitimacy and viability of the government.

That is why the failure of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to crack down on corruption in his administration and among his political allies is so dangerous. Instead of cleaning up government, Mr. Karzai has been blocking efforts to clean out corrupt politicians. The result is not only eroding support for his government among Afghans, but deepening divisions among allied countries trying to stabilize Afghanistan.

Critics say the number of prosecutions blocked exceeds two dozen and includes Cabinet ministers, ambassadors and provincial governors.

Mr. Karzai admits that he has thwarted prosecutions but he says it is because the investigations violated the rights of the accused and occur in manner ''reminiscent of the days of the Soviet Union.''

No doubt, Mr. Karzai is concerned about overly zealous prosecution. Respect for law is a new phenomenon in Afghanistan and the government has to set an example. But the real reason for his reluctance is concern that cleaning house will deprive him of critical political support.

Mr. Karzai knows he is in a vulnerable position. The government in Kabul has limited authority beyond the city limits. He worries that the West's current commitment to Afghanistan will prove as fleeting as those of the past.

To stay in power, Mr. Karzai needs to reach out to other power centers in the country; if that means turning a blind eye to their indiscretions and their criminal acts, he is prepared to oblige. While foreigners argue such policies are short-sighted and only undermine the legitimacy of the president and his government, the president insists such thinking is naive.

The need to keep foreign friends on his side is equally pressing, however. That is why Mr. Karzai has said he will continue to keep fighting corruption, even if it hits close to home. He will continue to consolidate power, too. That is why he has demanded that private security firms in Afghanistan cease operations by the end of the year.

The president's biggest concern is ensuring that he controls most of the country's firepower. That is a tall order in a country built on warlordism, but there is no reason to undercut his own power by encouraging the spread of private armies.

The same logic should apply to his fight against corruption. (Sept. 8)
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Publication:Asian Political News
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 13, 2010
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