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Afghanistan corruption ‘could see UK cut off security funds’

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Afghanistan corruption ‘could see UK cut off security funds’

Britain could withdraw funding for Afghanistan’s security forces if the Afghan government fails to tackle the country’s huge corruption problems, the outgoing British ambassador to Kabul has warned in a valedictory interview with the Guardian.

When foreign combat troops leave in 2014 Afghanistan will still be an impoverished and unstable state and the government will not be able to pay the army and police until huge mines start large scale production in several years time, Sir William Patey said. The security forces are the country’s main bulwark against a “descent into chaos”, he said.

But there are concerns corruption is now so rampant it threatens the legitimacy of the government, which Transparency International rates as one of the most corrupt in the world, behind only Somalia and North Korea.

“Nobody thinks that [Afghanistan] will be self-sustaining before 2024 or 2025 when the mineral resources that are currently being developed, and the future mineral resources, begin to kick in with revenues,” he said in his office in the heart of Kabul’s heavily-fortified diplomatic quarter. “If something is not done about corruption in the long term, then there would be a very strong argument that says you would be throwing good money after bad,” the ambassador said.

“And while we obviously want to maintain the state here, if the Afghans themselves are not prepared to make an effort, the British people will take a different view on this.”

The west has spent billions of dollars fighting the Taliban-led insurgency on the grounds it is critical to deny safe haven to al-Qaida and similar groups, and has pledged continued cash support for Kabul to pay for security and development when soldiers leave. Asked if a cut-off of funds could include UK contributions to the estimated $4.1bn a year needed to support the security forces, Patey said it could, “in a worse case scenario”.


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Afghanistan CorruptionUK funds to Afghanistan

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