WikiLeaks: Karzai's brother protecting illicit businesses in Kandahar

As a "kingpin of Kandahar," the younger half brother of President Hamid Karzai is using his influence as the unrivalled strongman to manipulate state institutions and protect illicit businesses, a secret diplomatic cable from the US embassy in Kabul says.

Observing that the national legitimacy of the Afghan President originates from the Kandahar province, the cable highlights the corruption-ridden system in the country where the US-led forces are fighting a raging Taliban insurgency.

US has been asking Hamid Karzai to check the massive corruption in the administration, as it hurts the credibility of the government and distances it from the people.

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the President's brother, virtually dominates the political landscape of Kandahar where he operates parallel to formal government structures through a network of political clans that use state institutions to protect and enable licit and illicit enterprises.

"As the kingpin of Kandahar, the President's younger half-brother Ahmed Wali Karzai (AWK) dominates access to economic resources, patronage, and protection," says the US cable originating from the Kabul embassy and released by WikiLeaks.

"Much of the real business of running Kandahar takes place out of public sight," it says.

As the kingpin of Kandahar, the President's younger half-brother rules over political deal and decision-making at the provincial level and thereby dominates access to economic resources, patronage and protection, the cable said.

"A dramatic example is the Arghandab river valley, an agriculturally rich and heavily-populated district strategically located at the northern gate to Kandahar city, where the President's direct intervention in the Alikozai tribal succession increased Karzai political dominance over two of the most valuable resources in Kandahar -- fertile land and water," it said.

The United States, which has charged the WikiLeaks of indulging in a criminal act by stealing and releasing these cables, has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of these documents.

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