Karzai blames Britain for Taliban resurgence

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Kabul, Sept.8 : Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has blamed Britain for the resurgence of the Taliban and its growing activity in large tracts of his country. Interacting with a group of Afghan MPs, Karzai said that he and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had a row over warlords and drugs barons.

According to The Times, Karzai claims Brown threatened to withdraw British troops from southern Helmand province, if Karzai took the step of reappointing two provincial governors sacked for alleged dealings in the heroin trade.

One of them was Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, the former governor of Helmand.

Karzai's plan to reinstate the governors has alarmed western diplomats in Kabul and dismayed British officials.

With 117 British soldiers dying in Afghanistan since 2001,diplomats say it would be hard to justify such sacrifices if drug barons continue to hold sway in the country. Akhundzada is regarded as a powerful tribal leader in the area and Karzai is convinced his return would help the government reassert control.

In a recent interview, Karzai said Akhundzada's alleged links to drugs could be overlooked.

Karzai had denounced Britain's opposition to the return of Akhundzada in meetings with Afghan MPs last month.

Some western diplomats in Afghanistan suspect, however, that Akhundzada has encouraged Taliban attacks on British forces to make his tenure as governor look like "a golden age".

They fear his reinstatement could actually lead to an escalation of fighting between rival drugs gangs.

ANI

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