Karzai promises to end cronyism and graft era in Afghanistan

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Kabul, Nov.19 (ANI): Promising Thursday to prosecute corrupt government officials and end a culture of impunity during his second term, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said that his administration would move beyond the cronyism and graft of the past five years.

Speaking after his inauguration here, Karzai, who has come under intense international pressure to clean up his government, said his government was doing whatever it could to implement reforms.

Karzai said a conference would be held soon in Kabul to address ways to tackle corruption, and that his government would take its fight against drug trafficking seriously, prosecuting those who are linked to narcotics as well as those who are engaged in corruption.

"Those who spread corruption should be tried and prosecuted. Corruption is a very dangerous enemy of the state," he said.

A CBS report said that he pledged that Afghan forces would be able to take control of the country's security in the next five years and believed that the "problem of international terrorism" in his country would be overcome.

"We are trying our best to implement social, judicial and administrative reforms in our country. Being a president is a heavy task and we will try our best to honestly fulfill this task in the future," Karzai said.

The ceremony was attended by about 800 Afghan and foreign dignitaries from more than 40 countries.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and British Foreign Minister David Miliband and Indian Foreign Minister S.M.Krishna were among them.

The president insisted he would select "expert ministers" capable of providing competent leadership.

Karzai won this year's fraud-marred presidential election by default, after his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, pulled out of a runoff, saying it was impossible for the vote to be fair.

The Afghan president also welcomed Afghans representing all tribes and ethnicities who turned out for his inauguration and said it demonstrated national unity. He also thanked the other presidential candidates who ran in the election and invited them to contribute to the new government.

Seeking to portray himself as a unifying force in the country, Karzai exclaimed, "I am the servant of all the people of Afghanistan, from every ethnicity, every tribe, from every place, from every province from every age, whether they are small children whether they are old people, women I invite all the presidential candidates to come and help in serving this nation." (ANI)

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