London, Nov. 7 (ANI): British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai that he would lose international support if he fails to get rid of corruption prevalent in his government.
The Guardian quoted Brown as saying that he was "not prepared to put the lives of British men and women in harm's way for a government that does not stand up against corruption".
His speech to the Royal College of Defence Studies drew criticism that Britain's role in Afghanistan was being made hostage to the behaviour of a government that Brown himself described as "a byword for corruption".
The shadow defence secretary, Liam Fox, said Britain's commitment to the conflict should not be "confused by mixed messages or empty threats".
"We must put pressure on the Karzai government to improve governance and tackle corruption, but if our mission in Afghanistan is a national security imperative, it can't be conditional on the behaviour of others," he said.
Downing Street later clarified that Brown's ultimatum did not imply a threatened withdrawal of British troops, but rather withholding of political support if Karzai did not improve his government in five areas laid out in the speech.
"If the government fails to meet these five tests, it will not only have failed its people, it will have forfeited its right to international support," Brown said.
Those five conditions were the provision of security for the Afghan population, improving governance by combating corruption and appointing qualified officials, political reconciliation with opponents, providing economic development and stabilising relations with the country's neighbours.
Karzai's commitment to change will come at his inauguration in a few weeks.
He is expected to flush out the most corrupt officials and replace them with technocrats and representatives of Afghanistan's major ethnic groups.
Karzai is also expected to create an anti-corruption commission involving some oversight from the international community. (ANI)