Afghan President Hamid Karzai says foreign governments are to blame for widespread corruption in Afghanistan and are undermining his efforts to establish the rule of law.
In a televised speech on December 22, Karzai said that local graft is negligible compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars paid by foreigners in suspicious deals.
"The existence of corruption in Afghanistan is a reality; indeed, it is a bitter reality," Karzai said. "[But] the corruption in our governments' institutes, such as bribery, is a small part of the corruption. The biggest part of the corruption in our country, and that involves hundreds of millions dollars, does not belong to us. A huge part of the corruption is imposed on us in order to weaken our government. We are not to be blamed for that. That is not our fault."
Speaking at a Kabul meeting marking the country's anticorruption day, Karzai stressed his government has to reform its administrative system and "pay enough salary" to government employees to fight bribery.
"So far, I don't see signs of success in fighting graft or making government reforms," he said. "We are still depending on relations with foreign countries. In order to fight graft, we must reform our administrative system and make sure we pay enough salary to our employees and make sure their future is guaranteed. Then, of course, we can eliminate a big part of existing corruption in our country."
Karzai accused foreigners of giving contracts to high-ranking Afghan officials or to their relatives in an effort to gain influence over the government, thereby paving the way for corruption.
He said the withdrawal of NATO-led troops from Afghanistan in 2014 would help rid the country of corruption. Karzai that when "foreign forces have left Afghanistan…their contracts, their administration will gradually disappear."
NATO has around 100,000 troops in Afghanistan fighting an insurgency by Taliban militants, but they are due to withdraw by the end of 2014.
International donors have pledged billions of dollars in aid after NATO combat troops withdraw from Afghanistan but have conditioned payment on corruption being brought under control.
Donors have said their efforts to stabilize Afghanistan have been hampered by endemic corruption and that the government has been unwilling to prosecute corruption cases involving political allies.
Afghanistan is ranked one of the most corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, published earlier this month.
With reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, and dawn.com