The overall security situation in Afghanistan has not improved in recent months, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his latest quarterly report to the U.N. Security Council. Ban’s report confirms what NATO forces have suggested, that the country is increasingly dangerous after nearly nine years of U.S.-led efforts against the Taliban, Reuters notes.
Meanwhile, a U.S. House of Representatives report suggested that the U.S. military is indirectly paying Afghan warlords, corrupt public officials and some Taliban-associated groups as part of its USD2.16 billion transport contract in the country. The contract also violates existing rules on the use of private contractors and undermines U.S. goals to curtail corruption and strengthen effective governance in the country, the report prepared by the House’s subcommittee on national security and foreign affairs said. The release of the report coincides with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeal for Congress to approve legislation to allocate more funds for the Afghan war. Otherwise, the Pentagon may be force to do “stupid things” in light of potential budget cuts, Gates said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In a visit to Japan last week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged major aid donors to invest in Afghanistan mines. The president pitched Afghanistan as “the lithium capital of the world,” Agence France-Presse reports. Back in Kabul, details of Karzai’s presidential salary were published in a bid to encourage more transparency among government officials. The president earns USD525 a month, owns no properties or lands and has less than USD20,000 in the bank, the report by Afghanistan’s anti-graft body stated.