My goodness, I’m really surprised!
Some Afghan MPs back Taliban, drugs trade –official
Aug 6, 2008
KABUL, Aug 6 (Reuters) - A senior Afghan intelligence official has accused a number of parliamentarians of supporting Taliban insurgents, Afghan newspapers said on Wednesday.
Afghan and foreign troops are struggling to contain the growing Taliban insurgency while President Hamid Karzai's government is also coming under increasing international pressure to rein in rampant corruption fed by the booming drugs trade.
The deputy head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Dr. Abdullah, told parliament on Tuesday that a "number of delegates" in the parliament "supported drug traffickers and terrorists", several newspapers reported on Wednesday.
Abdullah, who uses only one name, did not elaborate and did not name any politicians.
Such allegations have been made in the past by ordinary Afghans and Western officials, but it is the first time a senior official has accused lawmakers of helping the Taliban.
A spokesman for the NDS confirmed Abdullah's remarks, but declined to comment further.
An official for the lower house of parliament rejected Abdullah's comments and said they were aimed at covering up the government's failure to tackle the insurgency and drugs problem.
Some 2,500 people have been killed in Afghanistan this year, up to 1,000 of them civilians, aid agencies say, and the number of violent incidents has risen to its highest level since U.S.-led and Afghan forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001.
Afghanistan produced some 93 percent of the world's opium last year, bringing some $3 billion of illicit funds into the economy, fuelling corruption as well as funding the Taliban.
Afghanistan's upper and lower houses of parliament are dominated by a motley collection of former anti-Soviet mujahideen leaders, ex-Communist officials and some members of the Taliban government overthrown by U.S.-led and Afghan forces in 2001.
In recent years, key former mujahideen leaders have complained of being sidelined from power. Some even say privately foreign troops led by NATO and the U.S. military in Afghanistan are no different from the Soviet occupiers of the 1980s.
In an article published last month the U.S. government's former point man in the fight against the Afghanistan heroin trade accused Karzai and his government of obstructing counter-narcotics efforts and protecting drug lords.
Karzai strongly denies the charge. (Reporting by Sayed Salahuddin; Editing by Jerry Norton)