Karzai told to end corruption to ensure NATO offensive success

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Washington, Mar.30 (ANI): The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Admiral Mike Mullen, has told Afghanistan President Hamid Ansari that NATO's military offensive in Afghanistan will prove a waste of time unless he stamps out corruption in the Taleban stronghold of Kandahar.

This is second top-level warning to the Afghan leader in less than 24 hours, according to The Telegraph.

"We will be unable to succeed in Kandahar if we cannot eliminate a vast majority of corruption there," Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in what appeared to be an attack on Karzai's half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, who dominates Kandahar and denies accusations of his links with its opium trade.

"If we can't do that there, then we will not be able to succeed ... That's just a fact," Admiral Mullen added

The assessment came as tens of thousands of troops prepared for the most important military engagement in eight years of fighting in Afghanistan.

A full-scale offensive to remove the Taleban from Kandahar is NATO's next military objective and the centrepiece of General Stanley McChrystal's plan to use a 30,000-strong "surge" to pave the way for a withdrawal, starting next year.

US troops plan to have cleared the Taleban out of Kandahar by the beginning of August, before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

A collapse in support for Karzai's Government is a nightmare scenario for Washington and would expose Obama to charges of wasting American lives and 30 billion dollars a year for the surge alone.

White House fears of such a scenario were reportedly behind Obama's overnight trip to Kabul and Admiral Mullen's follow-up visit less than a day later. (ANI)

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